Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More on Washington County Plan

As the vision planning effort for Washington County is about to get underway, environmental groups are taking an active stand in opposition to the bill proposed by Sen. Bennett and Rep. Matheson for federal land use in the county. Both SUWA and the Utah Sierra Club proclaim that they are not happy with the bill, and ask people from around the country to express their opposition.

The Sierra Club does at least acknowledge the start of the local visioning plan, saying, "Some credit adheres to the impulse to plan for growth that everyone foresees. Unfortunately this proposed legislation would make growth-related problems in Washington County even worse. Bennett consulted with a fairly broad spectrum of land users and advocates, but the draft legislative language largely reflects the interests and preoccupations of the Washington County Commissioners."

To a degree, there does seem to be a little bit of a question about whether the cart is before the horse here, when a bill has been proposed before the proclaimed visioning process even gets started -- but by the same token, much has been made of the fact that a number of interest groups were brought together over an extended period of time to help craft the bill as it is. While the environmental groups claim they were never seriously invited to be part of that bill-crafting, the bill sponsors say that they were invited but did not like where things were headed so they quit coming.

The experience that environmental groups have in dealing with federal legislation is well-known and clear -- they know that process and how to influence it very well. How they will fare in a broader, Envision Utah-type visioning effort will be interesting to watch.


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