Deseret News
Letter to the editor

No matter our background or beliefs, the places we go to experience nature unite people, especially for us Utahns, who have unparalleled access to outdoor recreation. However, our state Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office intends to create a state-specific roadless rule to alter the management of 4 million acres of national forest, jeopardizing the public lands that many of us call home. Right now, the rule prohibits logging and road-building in remote roadless areas of our national forests.

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The federal process establishing the Roadless Area Conservation Rule was one of the most inclusive legislative processes that collected record-breaking numbers of public comments. Only Colorado and Idaho have implemented state-specific rules, requiring up to seven years to complete. Utah initiated this process last May, aiming to finish a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in less than a year. If a state-specific rule is to compare to the comprehensiveness of the federal rule, the state needs to slow down and thoroughly engage stakeholders across Utah. The hurried timeline has created a severe lack of scientific support and public input, which is catching up with the state, as the petition continues to fall behind its overly ambitious schedule.

Overlooking the voices of Utahns only creates divisiveness during a process that needs to be as inclusive and uniting as possible, for the sake of our public lands, and for so many of us who use those lands to feel a deeper connection to creation.

Jean Hill

Salt Lake City