Outdoor businesses and conservation groups are calling on the federal government to protect the land in and around Utah’s parks. 29 organizations sent a letter Monday to President Barack Obama calling for lasting protections for state and national parks from overdevelopment.
The letter urges President Obama to protect Utah’s parks and open spaces from future housing, mining, or ski resort developments. It specifically names the Bear River watershed and Zion National Park. Janine Donald is among those who signed it. She’s the Executive Director of Splore, a nonprofit organization that provides outdoor experiences to the disabled in Utah.
“We have a very vested interest in Utah’s public lands being preserved and taken care of,” Splore says. “There are a lot of us in the state of Utah tied to the outdoors, our livelihoods and our businesses are tied to the outdoors. I hope that there is access and it’s in a pristine state for many years to come.”
The letter asks President Obama to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund in his upcoming budget proposal. The fund was established by Congress in 1964 to acquire land in order to protect it. But Anneli Barube - Regional Field Organizer with Environment America - says it has not been fully funded for years.
“It’s continually raided by Congress, so we’re asking for full funding to go towards protecting our parks in Utah and across the country,” Barube says.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund receives money mostly from fees paid by companies drilling offshore for oil and gas. The Fund is set to expire in 2015 unless it is renewed by Congress.