Springdale rejects public-lands bill
Council seeks answers to its 'many objections'
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
ST. GEORGE Copies of a resolution opposing the Washington
County Growth and Conservation Act of 2006 are in the mail today,
earmarked for various mayors and other elected officials throughout
the county. The Springdale Town Council passed the resolution last week.
"Our concerns with the bill may be very different than other
cities, but we think some of them may be the same," said Springdale
Mayor Pat Cluff, who took office six months ago after serving on the
Town Council for four years. "We feel like our questions about the
bill haven't been answered to our satisfaction, and we have serious
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah,
introduced the proposed legislation last month in Congress. Highlights
of the bill include setting aside wilderness and conservation areas,
selling off 24,300 acres of public land, identifying utility and
transportation corridors that include the Lake Powell Pipeline
project, and protecting miles of the Virgin River under the Wild and
Scenic Rivers Act.
The bill will likely be heard in the Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee in early September, said Washington County
Commissioner Alan Gardner.
"I'm not surprised that Springdale came out against the bill,"
said Gardner, who attended the Town Council meeting several weeks ago
to present the legislation and answer questions. "Some of the people
speaking out against it are Realtors developing land out there. If
we're going to say nobody else can move in here, then that has to mean
their kids, too."
A representative from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance also
attended the same meeting to make a presentation, Cluff said.
"They were asked to come tell us the good, the bad and the ugly
of this bill," she said. "We just felt like we didn't know enough
Scott Groene with SUWA said Monday that Springdale's resolution
identifies the same concerns felt by many people over the public-lands
"I think this resolution is a strong indication of the problems
there are with this legislation," said Groene. "This opposition you
see growing in Washington County is because the bill is poorly thought
out. It's unfortunate that Bennett and Matheson introduced this
legislation before doing their homework."
One Springdale Town Council member, Louise Excell, spoke last
week at a rally held by Citizens for Dixie's Future, which opposes the
bill in its current form.
The Springdale resolution states the Town Council has "many
objections to the proposed legislation," including concerns over
future growth projections, the location of transportation corridors,
disposal of public lands, failure to protect sensitive lands in other
sections of the county and a lack of public input or consultation with
"I just don't see what the hurry is," said Cluff. "There's no
question we need to do something like this, and there are some
excellent ideas in the bill. But we'd like to see more mapping, more
detail, and we'd like more public involvement."