Record editorial: Support public lands at the ballot box
With fall colors in full bloom, it is likely many Parkites will be retreating to the great outdoors this weekend in search of mountain air and recreation before the cool temperatures of autumn fully set in at the higher elevations.
It will be an appropriate time to be outside, as Saturday is National Public Lands Day. Enjoying the abundance of nature is a fitting way to celebrate, but those of us who recreate in the wilderness would be remiss to allow that to be the extent of our observance of the day. We must also consider the ways we can ensure the immense public lands in Summit County and elsewhere in the state will be available for future generations.
That cannot be taken for granted; the sad reality is that public lands here and throughout the country are under assault.
The threat comes in the form of the ever-growing shadow of climate change, which will irreparably harm wilderness and the animals that live in it, as well as from lawmakers who view public lands not as a prized resource to protect but as a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder.
Among the lawmakers with that outlook are Rob Bishop, Mike Lee and a slew of folks in the Utah Legislature. Their efforts, of course, were most visible during the dispute over Bears Ears National Monument, ultimately resulting in the Trump administration slashing the amount of protected land in Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument by hundreds of thousands of acres.
The assault on public lands is antithetical to our values in Park City, where we care about preserving the majesty of nature and where the preservation of open space has been one of our community’s greatest successes in recent decades.
So how can Parkites fight back? At the ballot box.
When candidates knock on your door or ring your telephone in search of your vote, tell them they won’t get it without a promise to safeguard Utah’s public lands.
Tell them they won’t get it without supporting policies to make our air cleaner and our watersheds safer. Tell them they won’t get it without assurance that they understand that humans are driving climate change and that they’ll take aggressive legislative action to curb the threat.
This November, let’s put in power people at all levels of government who share our passion for preserving the outdoors, people who will fight as hard as we have over the years for something essential: ensuring public lands remain in public hands.
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