The Public Lands Initiative

Last week I read an interesting article discussing Congressman Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative (PLI). The article highlighted how university students throughout Utah opposed the measure. I am writing because there are also students throughout the state of Utah who strongly support Congressman Bishop and the realistic approach that he is taking to improve our great state. I am writing for a statewide coalition of students that have signed their support for the PLI in the form of a letter to our federal delegation, Governor Herbert, and President Obama.

As a university student, I love Utah and the environmental treasures that I can enjoy on a daily basis. Utah truly is full of unique and beautiful landscapes that must be protected. These incredible areas bring peace to the soul and unparalleled recreational opportunities. No one wants to see these opportunities become degraded or disappear for future generations.

Additionally, as a student, I will soon be entering the workforce and want ample opportunities to care for my family, which requires a healthy and growing economy. Too many times I have heard that the economy and conservation are at odds. One must pay the price if the other is to succeed. I join Congressman Bishop in flatly rejecting this negative ideology. Conservation does not have to lose for the economy to grow and vice versa. We can grow the economy and access Utah’s natural resources while protecting the environmental treasures that our state has to offer. For conservationists and those who wish to develop Utah’s lands for economic purposes compromise is going to be necessary. Both sides are not going to get everything that they want, but they can both take meaningful steps in the right direction. The Public Lands Initiative takes those steps.

There are many reasons that I support the Public Lands Initiative. To begin with, I wholeheartedly support the optimistic approach that it takes in attempting to work with various groups to achieve a bill that the majority can support. Congressman Bishop has been working on this bill for 7 years. This timeframe shows serious deliberation. He has taken an approach that attempts to hear and address the issues from each group that is affected. The Public Lands Initiative gains my support because it preserves Utah’s treasures and allows for our energy sector to grow in a responsible manner.

One of the most important issues in the PLI is the protection of the Bears Ears Buttes. The PLI has large support from the local Navajo tribes because it protects 1.1 million acres around the buttes and brings the management of this park back to our state officials. State management of public lands is vital if we as Utahns want to have any influence over how lands in our state are managed. Leaving the decision concerning the Bear Ears Buttes to President Obama through the Antiquities Act leaves local decisions in the hands of those who do not understand Utah like our local officials do. We the people are best served when our local officials are able to manage public lands. The measures taken in the Public Lands Initiative are vital to preserve Utah’s environmental treasures.

The majority of Utahns can agree that the status quo is not working, so let’s come together as a state and support a step forward in the right direction. It is always easy to criticize those who try, but it is a lot harder to actually do something to take a step forward in the right direction.

I support Congressman Bishop and the PLI. I hope you will too.


Barrett Anderson

Utah State University

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