What's this - Utah's congressional delegation aligned with environmentalists? We didn't think they could sit at the same table without arguing the merits of round vs. square. But here they are jointly championing boundary modifications and enlargement at Arches National Park. It is a refreshing change from a lengthy history of acrimony and insults. It also is a good idea.
When Arches became a park in 1929, boundary decisions were political and inflexible. A straight line cut through Lost Spring Canyon, leaving some of the pristine area within the park and an additional section with similar arches and scenic qualities unprotected. The decision made no sense.That mistake is being rectified in the Senate version of a bill by Rep. Chris Cannon that already has cleared the House. Introduced by Sen. Bob Bennett, it eliminates the straight border and restores a boundary that conforms with the natural features of the landscape - the rim of Lost Spring Canyon.
It also adds 3,140 acres to the national park, which nobody is complaining about. That isolated tract is currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is included in the BLM's wilderness study area and within a wilds proposal by the Utah Wilderness Coalition.
The bill, which ought to pass and likely will, may be indicative of future compromise and other boundary adjustments. It only makes sense that political dividing lines are replaced with natural ones where wilderness and national parks and monuments are concerned.
For example, this may provide the impetus to extend the boundaries of Canyonlands from canyon rim to canyon rim instead of its current straight-line configuration. There are BLM lands within Canyonlands' scenic views that could be susceptible to uses incompatible with what visitors now see and enjoy. That would be unfortunate.
It is encouraging to see politicians and environmentalists uniting for the common good and finding areas of compromise. That mind-set should carry into controversial wilderness issues as well. It is amazing how much can be accomplished when trust is fostered and people become amenable to common-sense solutions.