View Full Version : SUWA Utah Wilderness Bill Update, from USA-ALL

10-09-2009, 08:55 AM
Via Gene King:

We are excited to report that Thursday's Congressional hearing for SUWA's wilderness bill went very well. Very well for our side.

I was pleased to travel to Washington D.C. and show USA-ALL's commitment to defeating this bill. It was a great opportunity to further advocate our position and the wants and needs of our members to influential people.

You wouldn't think that a roughly 5 hour congressional hearing could be fun but it was. Of course I admittedly am a bit of a political nerd. It was a pleasure to be present and watch the debate over this bill. When I arrived outside the committee room on Thursday morning I noticed I was the only one not wearing a big yellow "Wild Utah" button. There were about 20 SUWAites and one of me. I soon found a few friendly faces. Carbon County Commissioner John Jones, Emery County Lobbyist Randy Johnson, rural Utah county lobbyist Bob Weidner, Lt Governor Greg Bell, and AMA rep Richard Podliska and myself made up those in attendance opposed to the bill. We watched all of our Utah elected officials do tier job as well as we have ever witnessed. We watched a "mobster like" Congressman from New York, Maurice Hinchey, weave a tapestry of half truths and ignorant statements. Congressman Hinchey had the audacity to claim that Utah "abandoned" the public land now being considered for Wilderness designation. And that if we had not done so we would not be in that hearing. It was an uninformed and outrageous comment that he reiterated many times. We watched Congressman Bishop question and push Mr Hinchey to the point where he had no intelligent or factual answers and so he resorted to a raised voice out of sheer frustration. We listened to former Mayor Rocky Anderson and other witnesses in favor of the bill spin, spin, spin the truth. It was really eye opening and at times entertaining.

We will provide to you a full transcript of the hearing as soon as it becomes available in the next week or two.

Thanks to the overwhelming numbers of letters, emails, and phone calls from our members, and some clever strategic thinking on part of USA-ALL and our partners we were able to significantly harm this bills chances of passing. USA-ALL was able to help provide information to the members of Congress and assist the witnesses in delivering an effective counter position to the bill. We also have been able to get the word out about this land grab to tens of thousands of people.

We want everyone to know of what a tremendous job Utah's Congressional delegation (Congressmen and Senators) did in uniting and speaking passionately against this bill. Congressman Bishop is the ranking Republican on this committee and his opening statement was poetic, passionate, and powerful. Congressman Chaffetz also sits on the full committee and he spoke very forcefully as well. Both Utah senators brought powerful testimonies and a depth of experience that was valuable. And lastly Congressman Matheson boldly united with the other members and spoke firmly against this bill. But Mr. Matheson as well as other members of the delegation were quick to point out that the land in Utah is beautiful and in some places may be worthy of Wilderness designation. But they mostly support a more localized plan on a county by county basis not a large state wide bill that has had little input from other parties outside of the Utah Wilderness Coalition. We at USA-ALL have been critical of this process and we remain skeptical. But we are keeping an open mind and will work with government and other stake holders if and when local plans are being drafted. Emery County has just recently began such a process for possible Wilderness designations in the San Rafael area. This is one we are fully engaged in and watching closely.

We also want to commend our new Lt Governor Greg Bell and Carbon County Commissioner John Jones for doing an OUTSTANDING job in testifying against the bill. We had the chance to spend a few hours with both of these gentlemen and it was a pleasure to speak with them and get to know them better. You can take it from us that they are great allies to have and they represented most all of you very well.

SUWA's bill as of now does not have future action scheduled. That DOES NOT mean it can't or won't move through the Congress. The bill IS NOT dead. WE MUST stay vigilant and be better prepared to defeat this bill. Many of you have generously donated. We thank you so much. We encourage others to help us fill our war chest so that we might effectively fight this bill by continuing to operate, communicate information to our members and the public, offer opposing views to media outlets, and work with government officials at all levels. Having a strong and capable local organization such as USA-ALL will be ESSENTIAL in protecting your interests and defeating this bill. We must not rely on national organizations or outside groups to protect us. We are lucky to have such valuable partners but we must take care of and assume responsibility for ourselves here in Utah. It is the right thing to do.

For those who haven't donated here is a donate button you can use to help us. Surely we have earned your support.

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For those who have helped by either donating and or contacting Congressmen, friends, neighbors, etc please take a minute and pat yourself on the back, feel good about our hard work and your efforts to help. It was truly a team effort. BUT please also resist the urge to rest on your heels and become complacent. We have a little momentum but we lots of lost ground to make up. Remain one of our supporters or get involved with us today, and then strongly encourage your friends and family to follow. It is past time that we truly take action to take back Utah and ultimately to take back America. Stick with us and we will accomplish just that!

Michael Swenson
Utah Shared Access Alliance