Surely You’re Joking, Gov. Herbert!

Arch Canyon
Arch Canyon, Manti-La Sal National Forest

But he’s not joking. (And stop calling him “Shirley.”)

On April Fool’s Day, Governor Gary Herbert signed into law H.B. 160, the so-called “Utah Wilderness Act.” Unlike the REAL Utah Wilderness Act (98 Stat. 1657, signed into law in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan), this bill did not designate a single acre of wilderness land. Why did the Utah legislature pass a fake wilderness law?

Two years ago, Gov. Herbert signed H.B. 148, the Transfer of Public Lands Act. It was a blatant violation of both the Utah and United States Constitutions. The Act purports to require, among other things, that the federal government must transfer title of all public lands in Utah to the state before January 1, 2015. This includes lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service.

Article III, Section 2 of the Utah Constitution says in no uncertain terms that the people of Utah “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries hereof.” Likewise, Section 3 of Utah’s Enabling Act, the legislation which led to Utah’s birth as a state, contains this same disclaimer.

Our legislature has chronically underfunded state parks. There is no plan and no budget for the state to manage the 30 million acres now administered by federal land agencies in Utah. The so-called “Utah Wilderness Act” is an attempt to cover up the state government’s lack of seriousness by establishing a mechanism for state-level “wilderness” designation. But it’s a farce.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. With these bold and eloquent words, wildlands were declared essential:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

H.B. 160’s sponsor, Rep. Stephen Handy (R-Layton), included this key language (originally drafted by Howard Zahniser, one of the founders of The Wilderness Society). But Utah Republicans struck it out of the bill, as too “highfalutin.”

  1. #1 by brewski on April 3, 2014 - 3:59 pm

    Arch Canyon has a road in it. I’ve driven it. It is not wilderness.

    You want wilderness? Go to Hammond Canyon, Woodenshoe Canyon, Dark Canyon, Fable Canyon, Gypsum Canyon….

    • #2 by Richard Warnick on April 3, 2014 - 4:03 pm

      One person’s “road” is another’s jeep trail. Anyway no vehicles are allowed past the national forest boundary. It was first set aside as a Forest Service roadless area in 1979 (RARE II, page 49).

      I’ve backpacked the whole length of Dark Canyon and Woodenshoe Canyon, and boated to the mouth of Gypsum Canyon (saw a band of desert bighorn sheep there once). Haven’t made it to the others.

      • #3 by brewski on April 3, 2014 - 4:16 pm

        Have you seen the Doll House Ruin? (not to be confused with the Doll House area of the Maze)

      • #4 by Richard Warnick on April 3, 2014 - 5:03 pm

        You know, it’s way up above the bottom of Woodenshoe. I’ve seen pictures of it. If I ask the forest archaeologists they might tell me exactly how to get there from the rim.

        Doll House ruin
        Dollhouse Ruin (Not my photo, obviously)

        • #5 by brewski on April 3, 2014 - 6:17 pm

          I have been to it twice. It is extremely easy to get to from the top. You can basically stroll there in 300 yards from your car. I would think it would be very difficult to get to it from the bottom. There is cattle grazing on the mesa, so there is a pretty good road that most regular cars could drive on when the road is dry and has been graded. One time I drove there there were one or two sections with deep mud. The other time was dry. Close to it is another small granary and another alcove with a blackened roof. I also saw a lot of bear tracks. So it is a pretty cool place. There is a lot around that whole area. Last year I went to Three Fingers. I was reading about BB Ruins but I don’t know where it is. I hear Lewis Lodge is fun to get to.

  2. #6 by Richard Warnick on April 3, 2014 - 8:14 pm

    Any comments on the Utah so-called “Wilderness Act,” or the 50th anniversary of the actual Wilderness Act?

    • #7 by brewski on April 3, 2014 - 9:59 pm

      I don’t understand the point of it. Seems like an empty law.

    • #8 by Larry Bergan on April 5, 2014 - 10:19 pm

      I guess we don’t know which law you’re talking about brewski; the old one or the new one.

      Can you elaborate?

      • #9 by brewski on April 6, 2014 - 9:25 am

        HB 160 per Richard’s link and question. I read it and I don’t understand what it is supposed to accomplish.

      • #10 by Larry Bergan on April 6, 2014 - 10:28 am

        Thank God.

        I don’t have to eviscerate anybody today.

        I really HATE doing that.

  3. #11 by Larry Bergan on April 3, 2014 - 8:46 pm

    Well, Republican “representatives” Roger Barrus and Stephen Handy should know what highfalutin is. They have just defined it for 2010’s.

    They never stop trying to debauch the last sacred places and the passions of those who love them. It’s a game to these types.

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