On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the Emery County Public Land Management Act as part of S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act.
The bill is now headed to the House of Representatives. If it passes there in its current form, it would protect 663,000 acres of Utah’s San Rafael Swell and Desolation and Labyrinth Canyons in Emery County as designated wilderness.
The bill was backed by Rep. John Curtis and former Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Sen. Mitt Romney, who replaced Hatch last month, voted for the bill while fellow GOP Senator, Mike Lee, voted against it.
The bill’s passage in the Senate drew praise from Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance’s executive director, Scott Groene, who thanked Hatch, Curtis, and Emery County officials in a statement.
“At a time when our nation is deeply divided, this legislation brought together differing views for a result that is good for Redrock wilderness,” Groene said. “Passing this legislation involved compromises, and landscapes deserving protection were left out. Nonetheless, this bill is good for Utah, and good for the United States.”
When the bill passed out of committee last fall, Curtis said, “While this amendment won’t provide every stakeholder with everything they want, I believe it is a reasonable compromise that is supported by locals including the leadership of Emery County.”