Are we rich enough to lock up large tracts of land never to be used again? Garfield County is not a rich county. We are the second-poorest county in the state of Utah. This past February, our unemployment rate reached 16.2 percent. This in not an uncommon figure in an area that depends heavily on tourism and other seasonal employment. We therefore need to be greatly concerned as to any economic possibilities affecting our county.
Several of our areas being studied as wilderness study areas are high in mineral value containing uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, vanadium and gold, as well as coal, oil and C02 deposits that have been explored. It is estimated that the Tar Sands Triangle contains 12 billion barrels of oil. The development of this resource as Canada has done would not only be an economic boon to our depressed area but could provide a future for our youth who are now forced to leave the county to find employment. Tar sands oil can be commercially and economically extracted. This is a labor-intensive operation and would provide many needed jobs for the future.It would be unfair to our children and grandchildren to make a decision at this time that would remove many of the options they have for their future. We need to leave the areas that we know contain valuable minerals out of the wilderness designation. Our county commissioners have spent a great deal of time and effort in doing this as they prepared their plan.
I would hope that the congressional delegation and the governor would respect the effort that has gone into the plans developed by the county commission.