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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Defying Death in Utah Arches: A Thrill Too Far?

Corona Arch - photo by Dave Webb
The title for this post comes from this New York Times article, reporting the controversy surrounding dangerous stunts by thrill seekers on public land in Utah. In particular, it focuses on Corona Arch, near Moab, and the recent craze of people turning it into a giant rope swing. But the article does a good job providing background and explaining the bigger debate over control of public land in the West.

We reported on the Corona Arch swing a few weeks ago, mentioning that BLM is considering placing new restrictions on recreation in the area. BLM will hold public hearing before deciding on management and we encourage you to submit your opinion.

The Times article is noteworthy because it shines a strong national spotlight on the controversy. But there is even debate on whether national exposure is good or bad. Some Utah residents say, in effect, this is our state, our issue, we alone should make these decisions. We don't need New York people weighing in on Utah land management.

I disagree. Southern Utah is my backyard, but it is a national treasure and important playground for people from all over the world. It is a bigger issue than where Utah sheep should be allowed to graze or where we should dig new mines.

Today KSL.com has this new report on a related issue:


“Fourteen senators... sent a letter to the president saying Utah should have a Greater Canyonlands National Monument.

“They say the 1.8 million acres around Canyonlands National Park are some of the nation’s most stunning, wild and unique landscapes and should 'be permanently protected.'”

Some Utahns are noting that most of the 14 Senators have never set foot in the area, yet they are pushing for federal control of the land.

Utah Representative Jim Matheson, a Democrat, made this interesting assessment of the proposal:

"I'm never big on national monuments being created by a president," said Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. "I think it ought to go through the legislative process where we can have witnesses and input from all the stakeholders. That's the way you make public lands decisions."

Public input is important, from Utahns, from interested people in New York, and from others around the national. Here's hoping you will pay attention and make your voice heard.

– Dave Webb

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