Red rock — it sets the scene for our hikes and adventures, speaks to us, inspires, holds us while we climb. It hosts patches of rare biological soil crust; an intricate symbiosis of cyanobacteria, lichens, and mosses. Its desert flowers intrigue, with their impossible succulence and uncanny pops of color.

Southern Utah's landscape is nothing less than a treasure, and thankfully much of it already falls under federal protection. But portions of this precious territory remain unprotected and are at risk of being handed over to high-impact extractive industries.

During his recent State of the Union address, President Obama made a commitment to use his authority "to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” Canyonlands country would be a perfect place to start. It is more than high time that the Greater Canyonlands receive full federal protection against uses that threaten its future enjoyment. Let's hold the president to his word and demand action to protect Greater Canyonlands.

Hilary Smith

Salt Lake City