Letter to the Editor: America's public lands are a sacred trustEdward Abbey said, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” The magnificent national parks, monuments, forest service and BLM lands in Utah attract millions of visitors for recreation, inspiration, and adventure. Their colorful canyons, arches, hoodoos, and slick rock are a glorious part of God’s creation.

Now these lands face grave danger of sale to private interests for development. Utah lawmakers want to allow mining of coal and uranium within the Grand Staircase — which would destroy a national treasure.

The economic impact of tourism on Utah’s rural areas is debated, but research from the University of Utah shows that tourism is the second-largest “export” behind primary metals in Utah. Statewide, recreation and tourism are the third biggest jobs generator. Rural Utah benefits even more.

However, Utah politicians’ hostility towards conservation values puts these benefits at risk. It has already led the Outdoor Retailers Convention to pull out of Utah, costing the state $45 million annually. Other groups are considering the same.

America’s public lands are a sacred trust. We should oppose all efforts to reduce them. When they are gone, they are lost forever.

Jean Bjerke

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