wilderness

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The Wilderness Act turns 50 on Wednesday, and the anniversary has some Utahns thinking about the value of wild places

Congress created the formal system for protecting the nation’s wild places. It’s designated more than 107 million acres as wilderness. In Utah, 1.1 million acres of federal land has earned wilderness protection so far.

Equal Ground Campaign

A Utahn is in line to lead the House panel that oversees the nation’s public lands. But advocates doubt Congressman Rob Bishop will pick up the tradition of bipartisan support for conservation if he gets the job leading the House Natural Resources Committee.

Utah Democrat Jim Matheson introduced legislation in Congress today to protect wilderness and watershed areas along the Wasatch Front.                

  Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) is hoping that a regional approach to resolving the status of public lands in Utah might work better than the county-by-county approach that's been tried before.  Bishop has been meeting with local government leaders and representatives of environmental groups, hoping to work out a plan that he can get through Congress.  He chairs the House Subcommittee on Public Lands.  The plan, he says, is to designate lands for preservation as wilderness and lands where development and revenue would be the primary goal.

Wasatch Mountain photo by Howie Garber
Howie Garber

Howie Garber came to Utah to go to medical school and worked as an emergency room physician after he graduated from medical school in 1980.  Through the years, he's taken thousands of photographs of the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake County, and this month he's publishing many of them in a new book, Utah's Wasatch Range -- Four Season Refuge.  Though the pictures are stunning, it's more than just a coffee table book.

Proposed Skull Valley land swap
U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is asking for public comment on a proposed land swap in the Skull Valley area of Utah's West Desert.   It would trade about 14,000 acres, mostly near the town of Terra, for a similar acreage of private land in and around the Onaqui Mountains east of Dugway. 

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance supports the trade.  Field Director Ray Bloxham says this is an unspoiled area of the state.