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News- Dixie land bill won''t pass in ''06

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by adkramoo, Dec 6, 2006.

  1. adkramoo

    adkramoo Guest

    Dixie land bill won't pass in '06

    By Suzanne Struglinski and Nancy Perkins Deseret Morning News WASHINGTON — Congress will not finish the controversial Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2006 this year, according to Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill. Congress is simply running out of time to take up new legislation and this does not fit with the handful of things it wants to accomplish before adjourning on Friday, he said. "I believe we had enough support in the Senate to pass this bill, but given the post-election environment in the House, it became clear they would not act on it, or many other pending bills, before they adjourn," Bennett said in a written statement Tuesday. "Washington County will continue to experience unprecedented growth, and it is unfortunate that efforts to help address this will be delayed." The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, would sell 24,300 acres of public land in two phases, with most of the proceeds going to fund conservation projects within Washington County. The measure also would designate 219,725 acres as wilderness, including some in Zion National Park, preserve utility corridors and create an off-road trail system for vehicles, among other items. "Sen. Bennett and I have worked closely with the Utah delegation and stakeholders throughout Utah on this important bill. We remain committed to working on this legislation in the next Congress," said Matheson. Washington County officials have strongly supported the bill, while environmentalists and other opponents have said the bill favors development and amounts to a massive sell-off of federal public lands. Bennett said he will introduce the bill next year and is open to hearing new suggestions and ideas on what it can include. Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner said he was disappointed the lands bill would not be considered in Congress this year. "I'm sure it'll be introduced at some point next year," he said. "This delay wasn't zeroing in on our bill specifically. There were other, similar bills that were also delayed." Gardner said he was in a county commission meeting late Tuesday afternoon when he was pulled from the room and given the news. "I feel disappointed that some of those groups would come out so strong against the bill when they were involved in the process," Gardner said. "This will put us into the next Congress, but I'm sure we'll continue to go ahead with it." Justin Allegro, a legislative assistant with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said the bill may face tougher scrutiny with the Democrat-controlled Congress next year. "In all likelihood, the new Congress will make harder to pass bad wilderness bills that simply don't pass the test," Allegro said. Lin Alder, director of Citizens for Dixie's Future, said he was "elated" that the lands bill would be delayed until next year. "When we began this campaign in April, we honestly did not believe that the community would engage in the discussion," said Alder. Since then, 700 people have registered to receive e-mails from the group, which has pushed delaying the bill until a local planning effort called "Vision Dixie" is completed. "People in St. George in the past have simply chosen to follow along, regardless of the merits of a proposal," Alder said. "What we found is that in the last five years, enough people have moved in and enough old-timers have become concerned about sprawl to stand up and speak out. This is a major change."
  2. anos_alta

    anos_alta Guest

    a friend of mine just sent me an interesting email, listing a few comparisons of the deseret news article and the salt lake tribune article on the same topic ... here's what he wrote:

    "just wanted to weigh in on the spin a story receives depending on the publication. The Tribune says that "most" of the proposed wilderness designation is already protected within Zion. Deseret says "some" is. Tribune says the bill will "establish" utility corridors whereas Deseret says it will "preserve" them. Deseret cites only the 700 people who signed up for emails, thus lowballing the opposition in the form of over 4,000 signatures. Lastly, the Deseret article leaves out how the Bush Admin. expressly objected to earmarking the majority of the land sale proceeds for conservation."

    stefan

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "adkramoo" <adkramoo@...> wrote:

    Dixie land bill won't pass in '06
    By Suzanne Struglinski and Nancy Perkins > Deseret Morning News >
  3. adkramoo

    adkramoo Guest

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "anos_alta" <sf@...> wrote: > a friend of mine just sent me an interesting email, listing a few > comparisons of the deseret news article and the salt lake tribune > article on the same topic ... here's what he wrote:
    "just wanted to weigh in on the spin a story receives depending on the > publication. The Tribune says that "most" of the proposed wilderness > designation is already protected within Zion. Deseret says "some" is. > Tribune says the bill will "establish" utility corridors whereas > Deseret says it will "preserve" them. > Deseret cites only the 700 people who signed up for emails, thus > lowballing the opposition in the form of over 4,000 signatures. > Lastly, the Deseret article leaves out how the Bush Admin. expressly > objected to earmarking the majority of the land sale proceeds for > conservation."

    Might as well post the Trib version too! No news...or no action, is often good news....or good action. I'm relieved anyway

    Washington County plan stalls Land-use proposal won't make it through Congress By Robert Gehrke The Salt Lake Tribune Article Last Updated:12/06/2006 03:19:40 AM MST

    12»WASHINGTON - An ambitious bill to shape the future of fast- growing Washington County will not get through Congress this year, sponsoring Sen. Bob Bennett said Tuesday. Bennett said he believes he could have gotten the bill through the Senate, but House leaders refused to let legislation be tacked on to any of the measures passing on their side. "Getting through the Senate would be satisfying, but not sufficient. So when it became clear that it would not go through the House, I and my allies all said, 'OK, to quote the Brooklyn Dodgers, wait until next year,' " Bennett said. By the time Congress convenes in early January, another 700 new residents will live in WashingtonCounty, if growth trends of recent years continue. It is Utah's fastest growing county and one of the top-five fastest-growing in the country, squeezed by land and water limitations. And Democrats will control Congress, which could look less favorably on legislation opposed by environmental groups. Utah Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, however, will likely have more influence over his party's leaders in the next Congress and says he will help get the bill passed. "Senator Bennett and I have worked closely with the Utah delegation and stakeholders throughout Utah on this important bill. We remain committed to working on this legislation in the next Congress," said Matheson. "It's a disappointment," said Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner. "We'll just keep moving ahead. It's not going to bring the county to a grinding halt. We'll just keep going forward and get with Senator Bennett and Congressman Matheson after the first of the year and see what the field looks like." The Washington County bill would have recognized 219,725 acres of wilderness areas, mostly in the already-protected Zion National Park, and authorized the sale of up to 24,300 acres of federal lands over several years. It also would have established utility corridors, created a permanent tortoise preserve, and approved creation of an off-road vehicle trail network. "I think the changes in Congress will make it more difficult to pass legislation that is bad for wilderness, like this one," said Scott Groene, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. "The legislation ran into a wall of [opposition] locally and nationally, in the House and the Senate, and this opens the door to try to find a solution for discussions that work for everyone." The bill was the product of a cooperative effort established in 2004 by then-Gov. Olene Walker that was aimed at bringing the various interest groups together to resolve long-standing land-use conflicts. But the bill itself was not conflict-free. Environmental groups objected, claiming it was a giveaway to real estate developers and lacked adequate wildland protections. And the Bush administration objected to language that would have dedicated most of the estimated $1 billion in revenues from the land sales to conservation in the county. Bennett had patterned the Washington County measure on similar legislation by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and wanted to move the Utah measure in tandem with a Reid bill to resolve land and water issues in White Pine County, Nev. Bennett and Reid had hoped to attach both measures onto one of several spending bills expected to pass by year's end. But House leaders were looking to quickly wrap up work for the year, possibly as early as today or Thursday, and the congressional agenda began to rapidly shrink, giving Bennett and Reid few engines to pull their train. "The single most significant factor was the election," Bennett said. "Before the election . . . we were talking about a number of legislative initiatives and this was very much alive as one of them. I can't really speak for the House, but my sense is that after they lost the majority the House leadership just decided, 'Let's just shut down and go home.' " Bennett noted that there will be several opportunities to move the legislation when Congress returns. In the meantime, he said he is open to discussions with environmental groups, provided they have something new to offer. "If there's something constructive they have to say rather than repetitive, I would" listen, Bennett said. "I do get a little bit impatient with people who cloak demands as discussions." Groene said he would like to see Vision Dixie, a locally based planning initiative, run its course and see what conclusions it reaches before Bennett returns with legislation next year. gehrke@sltrib.com

    R
  4. adkramoo

    adkramoo Guest

    More on the subject

    Local leaders react to shelved bills By SCOTT DAVID JOHNSON sjohnson@thespectrum.com

    ST. GEORGE - Two bills of critical interest to Southern Utah face an uncertain future in the next session of Congress.

    House leaders said Tuesday they would not consider the controversial Washington County Growth and Conservation Act or a bill which would have given Utah its fourth congressional seat during a lame-duck session this week. Dead in the water for now, both bills must be reintroduced in the 110th Congress.

    The news met with mixed reactions Wednesday from civic leaders and activists. Opponents of the controversial land bill cheered its potential demise, while its sponsors in Congress and supporters in Washington County vowed to fight another day. But strong opposition from several Democratic leaders could force changes to the bill if it re-emerges next year.

    The state's second brush in five years with a possible fourth seat in the U.S. House ended in almost universal disappointment, just 24 hours after the Legislature approved a new redistricting map - but few were surprised.

    "I guess Utah should be known as the eternal optimist," said Utah Rep. Dave Clark, the incoming House majority leader. "We'd hoped that we would be able to get our fourth seat, but there's still some discussion that it may be brought up and reintroduced again as the Democratic leadership takes hold."

    Clark said Utah is more a victim of time than lack of interest in Congress. The bill, which would have also granted the District of Columbia its first voting member of the House, had generated strong bipartisan support.

    But Utah Sen. Bill Hickman said the state could have to wait until after the 2010 census to get its fourth seat.

    "It's hard to say what the new direction will be in Congress with the change in leadership," he said.

    Hickman had voted for the Legislature's plan with some reservations, stemming from its inclusion of a highly populated section of Salt Lake County in the largely rural District 4, which would include Washington County.

    But he was also concerned with the constitutionality of providing a seat to the District of Columbia, which he called a "protectorate of Congress."

    "I can't imagine that the courts would interpret the Constitution differently than it says," Hickman said.

    Utah's disappointment was shared on the other side of the country.

    "I think it's very unfortunate what happened," said Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote. "In some ways it's a slap in the face to the folks who have been working on this bill for three years, including folks in Utah. I think there was plenty of time for the Congress to take this bill up today."

    Zherka said his coalition would "live to fight another day."

    But the collapse of the Washington County land bill left a community still divided in its wake.

    County Commissioner Jim Eardley said he was "extremely disappointed" by the news, but that it was something he anticipated.

    He feared the land bill would re-emerge next year "amended and tinkered with and changed to the point where it doesn't do any good."

    The current incarnation of the bill would open almost 25,000 acres of public land to private and municipal use, while protecting almost 220,000 acres of wilderness, about half of which falls within Zion National Park.

    But opponents have questioned the sale of wilderness land, some of which includes critical habitat for threatened species and archeological resources. Many have also said the public was not sufficiently involved in the bill's drafting.

    Mayor Pat Cluff, of Springdale, said she was "delighted" the bill did not pass this session.

    "It was always my hope that we would revisit the bill and wait for this Vision Dixie process to happen and get some input from the public, which I felt was really lacking," Cluff said.

    The bill had several good components, she said, but she questioned the sale of public land.

    She added, "All I know is, there's plenty of land that's privately owned that hasn't been developed right now, and there should be a really good look before we start opening up public land."

    Glenn Rogers, chairman of the Shivwits Band of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, said any future discussion of the bill should include more public input.

    "That's all they need to do: just get us involved in a better way than they did last time," he said. "They wrote that bill somewhere in a back room. They need more input, and they've run over too many people and organizations in this area."

    The bill's sponsors, Republican Sen. Bob Bennett and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, have promised to reintroduce the legislation next session.

    But Bennett suggested Wednesday he would still be open to ideas.

    "Congressman Matheson and I have received a significant number of comments throughout this three-year process, and we incorporated many of these suggestions into the bill," he said in a statement. "I remain open to additional discussions on this bill, and encourage Utahns to bring their new ideas to the table as we look to the next Congress for passage."
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