"What we do locally, in our own back yards, is just as important as what we do when we go to the national forest." - Sam Rushforth, BYU professor of ecology.
The time is right to develop a public consciousness regarding the environment.That was the message driven home during an Outdoor Ethics Summit at Sundance Resort Thursday. Representatives from a wide spectrum of organizations met to lay the groundwork for adoption of an outdoor ethics creed and action plan for Utah.
Organizers hope the meeting, sponsored by officials from the Uinta and Wasatch-Cache National Forests, will be followed by a future symposium on outdoor ethics involving even more public agencies and private organizations.
Increasing demand on natural resources, less federal money to protect and maintain them and man-caused damage to the environment call for a viable response to the situation, speakers said.
"I spend a lot of time going to meetings, and ethics comes up at every meeting," said Don Nebeker, forest supervisor for the Uinta National Forest. "It (ethical issues) spreads the gamut from improper livestock grazing to improper off-highway vehicle use to trash. Ethics is an idea whose time has come."
Nebeker said the purpose of the summit was to provide a starting point for a statewide strategic effort to coordinate, promote and complement programs aimed at improving Utah's environment.
"We have an excellent opportunity, a window in which to really make a difference in Utah," Nebeker said. "We have to sharpen up our vision for the future."
Deputy Lt. Gov. Dave Hansen said the public needs a reason to care about the environment and a plan to preserve it. That awareness must include a realization that with fewer federal dollars, private sector involvement - including individual support - is vital.
Utah County Commissioner Brent Morris said it is easier to pass responsibility for the environment to a federal agency than to accept it on an individual basis. However, the movement to become more environmentally responsible will succeed because the people involved are educated, sophisticated and emotionally involved, he said.
"The 1990s will be the most important decade for this world and for us," Morris said. "We're either going to turn around this world or not turn it around. . . . We should be involved in our survival."
Those attending included representatives of the Utah and Utah County travel councils, the governor's office, Division of Natural Resources, the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah Department of Transportation, Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Wildlife Leadership Coalition, the Utah Trails Machine Association, the National Parks Service, educators, State Parks and Recreation, advertising agencies, National Forest Service and the Utah County Commission.
-Increase environmental education programs in schools.
-Require educators to take 15 credit hours of environmental awareness classes as part of teacher education curriculum.
-Educate elected officials in the state regarding environmental issues.
-Develop a statewide recycling program.
-Develop coordinated plans for dealing with garbage and waste disposal issues.
-Create an outdoor ethics commission to coordinate and facilitate environmental efforts in Utah.
-Develop a media campaign to promote environmental awareness.
-Make it easier to comply with laws and be environmentally conscious.