Summit County wants rewrite of Bishop's public lands initiative
SALT LAKE CITY — Less than month after a Utah congressman's massive public lands proposal was unveiled for seven counties in eastern Utah, one county says it wants a rewrite to incorporate consensus agreements on key provisions such as wilderness, watershed protections, grazing and motorized recreation.
The Summit County Council met Wednesday and agreed to tell Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, that there are too many inconsistencies between what the county agreed to via a public stakeholder process and what Bishop came up with in a draft bill unveiled last month.
"The (draft) legislation included significant alterations that do not comport with (the) proposal submitted by Summit County," wrote Lisa Yoder, the county's sustainability program manager, advising the council in a memo to reject Bishop's land plan unless it is altered.
"Several edits are required to bring the draft legislation into line with the Summit County resolution and language for the watershed management areas, special management areas and wilderness," Yoder wrote.
Bishop has been working for more than three years to build a comprehensive public lands bill he can introduce in Congress to carve out designations for recreation, energy development, conservation and other public land uses — with an eye toward building agreement.
Seven counties — Summit, Uintah, Duchesne, Grand, Emery, San Juan and Carbon counties — went through a grass-roots process to get input on how public lands should best be used, submitting proposals to Bishop's office to craft his bill.
Summit County, with its high mountain wilderness, prized powder snow and pristine recreation areas, indicated it wanted close to 24,000 acres designated as "Uinta Wilderness," and the creation of watershed management areas with an eye to safeguarding water supply.
Yoder's memo indicated the Bishop legislation disregarded many of those agreements, including mandates on grazing, allowances for motorized recreation where none existed before and ambiguities over vegetation management.
The Summit County Council wants Bishop to incorporate the original provisions of the county's land-use proposal.
Bishop's legislation affects 18 million acres in Utah and includes a number of provisions that environmental and conservation groups said made it "dead on arrival," including restricting presidential designation of monuments and multiple exemptions over "wilderness" designations.
The Utah congressman has maintained from the beginning that his public lands proposal will not make everyone happy, but is an attempt to broker compromise.
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