Ravell Call, Deseret News
A hiker takes in the view in Bell Canyon in the San Rafael Swell. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance worries public lands like San Rafael Swell would be in peril if Gov. Gary Herbert's public land policies succeed.
Last week the Bureau of Land Management made the great decision not to lease 80,000 acres of wild lands in the San Rafael Swell for oil and gas drilling. Some may disagree because they believe drilling is an economic driver, but in my view this is short-sighted. Like many others, I've been visiting the Swell for over 20 years, exploring the red rock wilderness, spectacular canyons and ancient ruins of southern Utah.
Last year I bought a 1902 fixer upper house in Emery because of its proximity to the Swell. As our planet's population ever increases, pristine and special landscapes such as the Swell will become rarer and more sought after by people seeking beauty and solitude. Protecting scenic landscapes is the basis for a long-term, stable, sustainable, economic base. It may be hard to see from a close-up, short lens view, but the unique qualities of the Swell need protection.
Those who think oil and gas development can be done without real damage need to take a look at existing areas of development. The desert is fragile, and once scarred with drill pads and roads it remains that way for decades. This lover of beautiful landscapes is rejoicing right now.