Wild Utah: Trash or treasure?

The first time I visited Utah's wild redrock country was on a cross-country road trip. I was completely unprepared to wander into a part of the United States like no other.  I felt like I was on another planet; words cannot really describe the overwhelmingly spectacular landscape.

The unique power of Utah's redrock wildlands is why Americans from across the country support designating nine million acres there as Wilderness - the highest level of protection we can provide to our nation's most pristine and untouched lands. But practically from Day One of the Bush Administration, administration officials have had Utah's wildest lands in its energy crosshairs - looking for ways to open up land that belongs to all Americans to irresponsible industrial development.

It's almost a predictable ending to this chapter of our history that one of the Bush Administration's parting gifts to its friends in Big Oil is the authority to trash parts of this American treasure with toxic pollution, noise, and destruction of wildlife habitat and historic archeological sites. Ironically, it was on Election Day, a day that our country chose a new energy future, that the Administration announced it would be offering up these lands for sale to the highest bidder.  Even the Bush Administration's own National Park Service is seriously concerned about the threats to nearby national parks after being bypassed in the decision process.  Some of the lands are adjacent to a national park and have even been suggested for national park status.  While today I am writing about Utah, irresponsible oil and gas leasing continues to threaten more federal wildlands all over the Rocky Mountain region, so I'll be writing more.

You can get updates and take action to help protect this beautiful land by joining NRDC's BioGems Defenders at our  Redrock BioGem website.  And if you haven't already had the opportunity, try to visit wild Utah.