This bill “designates” a lot of wilderness acreage, but it is very deceptive. A good portion of it is in Zion National Park. Wilderness designation is largely redundant there. Much roadless area in the vicinity would remain unprotected.The city of St. George and now sprawling nearby towns is another classic of bad planning and uncontrolled growth, although many of the individual developments are quite lovely, and were even planned to blend with the color of the desert cliffs and slopes.
The only limits to growth have been lack of water. Utah’s “Dixie” as it is called, is serious desert country. Unfortunately the real point of the bill is not wilderness, but privatizing a big chunk of public land so St. George can continue its march over the landscape. The bill would sell public land to pay for the building of a big pipeline all the way across southern Utah to tap Lake Powell in the state’s SE Corner and bring it to Washington County in the SW corner of Beehive State. Utility corridors would be authorized and also massive off road vehicle trail system.
So the real effect of the bill is not protection, but continued development of an energy and water guzzling culture. The looming end of the Lame Duck session of the old Congress may spell the end of this bill in its present form, but there is talk about an omnibus bill for the various “wilderness, with side-payment” bills, as I call them.
Here is the story of the hearing before Senator Larry Craig’s Senate subcommittee. “Dixie land bill faces obstacles. End of session in D.C. is a problem for growth measure for S. Utah.” By Suzanne Struglinski. The Deseret Morning News.
If you want to stop the wasteful use of land and energy and destruction, not the creation of real wilderness, you need to contact your Senator and ask them to oppose the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act.
Here is a detailed alert from SUWA, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Note that the lame duck adjouns for Thanksgiving, so there is probably time to stop it.