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Utah Travel Headlines

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Outdoor Companies Ask Obama To Create A New National Monument In Utah

The battle over control and protection of undeveloped land in southern Utah continues to rage, with major outdoor companies firing the latest volley.

Many of Utah's elected leaders have been pushing for more state control over land belonging to the federal government. Leaders of outdoor recreation companies have been pressuring Utah to back away from that stand, threatening to move the massive Outdoor Retailers show to another state.

Now the recreation industry has gone on the offensive, asking President Obama to create a new national monument to protect lands surrounding Canyonlands National Park.

The proposal reminds Utahns of the decision President Clinton made to create Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, to protect land around Bryce Canyon from coal development. Clinton stood at the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, to announce creation of the Utah monument. Many Utahns were furious, yet most of us now take pride in that monument and the beautiful land it protects.

KSL has this report about the new proposal. Below are excerpts.

"We believe this sends a powerful message to all of Utah's congressional delegation," said Peter Metcalf, president and chief executive of Black Diamond Equipment Inc., a Salt Lake City-based company that has been acquiring other hardware makers around the globe. "This would become one of the greatest national monuments in the West."

The outdoor-industry leaders say Utah is blessed with a $4 billion recreation economy that's more important than mining or oil-and-gas drilling on federal lands around Canyonlands National Park. A monument would protect 2,200 square miles around a park one-quarter of that size. It would take in more of the Colorado and Green rivers and the Dirty Devil River, and such landmarks as Labyrinth Canyon, Fiddler Butte and Robbers Roost.

With Congress refusing to move any land-protection bills, the companies are reaching out to Obama, who can use his presidential authority and political capital after reelection to designate a monument on his own, said Ashley Korenblat, president of Western Spirit Cycling in Moab, a mountain biking town that draws people from around the world.

-- Dave Webb

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