Friday, March 24, 2006

A letter to the Salt Lake Tribune about Cedar Breaks

Dear Salt Lake Tribune,

I read with great interest your recent article about changing Cedar Breaks into a national park by extending its boundaries to include Ashdown Gorge and adjacent areas of the Dixie National Forest. While this may sound like a good idea in theory, I think it is important for the local citizenry to ask some questions about what such a designation would actually accomplish and consider the consequences of turning over another parcel of ground to the chronically under-funded, zealously bureaucratic National Park Service.

I wonder if Iron County residents are aware of the elaborate licensure process that the park service has recently imposed on tour companies operating in Zion National Park? Several of these companies have recently begun curtailing their operations at Zion due to the onerous and silly dictates imposed without public input or feedback. The park service now exercises extensive regulatory oversight and charges hundreds of dollars in fees just for the privilege of bringing a tour bus to the park and walking with your group on a paved trail. You now also have to pass a test on your knowledge of Zion regulations! No lie!

Livestock currently graze in the proposed drainage basin of the new park, would this activity be banned because of its impact on water quality? Would light pollution from nearby Cedar City eventually become an issue of oversight, as it was in Springdale a few years back, when the park service attempted to micro-manage that town’s affairs? Would wholesale closures of so-called “pristine” areas, without adequate explanation, be the rule of the day as it is in other Utah national parks?

These are questions that should be asked before assuming that expanding the purview of a massive and lumbering federal bureaucracy would be a good thing for the long-term health of tourism and recreation in Iron County.

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