This is meeting season—the time of year when people are scrambling around making plans for the coming year, working on budgets, politicking and strategizing. In Utah, this is the most meeting-intensive time of year, when the Utah legislature is in session.
Generally speaking, most people don’t enjoy attending meetings very much. Scott Adams, the creative genius behind the comic strip, “Dilbert,” regularly lampoons the most dreaded of meetings—staff meetings--apparently having sat in on more than a few in his prior life.
But if there IS a good time of year to attend meetings, now is it. Except for a smattering of depredation deer and elk hunts and some small game, hunting season is pretty much over. Ice fishing gets a little stagnant as diminished oxygen levels makes fish sluggish the longer the flatwater is iced over. Stream fishing is pretty much limited to tail waters which can be crowded on the nicer days, but a good break from cabin fever, even if the hatches are sparse and trout-catching sparser. All this makes going to meetings a little easier to swallow, weather-permitting.
The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) announced today it would give a three-year reprieve to a controversial lease it planned to issue in the Book Cliffs.
An agreement reached by Governor Gary Herbert, SITLA, Congressman Rob Bishop and Anadarko will delay development on the roadless or Little Creek Area of the Book Cliffs, a region coveted by hunters and anglers for its remote character and pristine habitat. This delay came at the request of sportsmen, many of whom see this area as critical component of a public lands initiative started by Congressman Bishop and Governor Herbert.
“We congratulate the Governor’s office, Congressman Bishop, Anadarko and SITLA for crafting this agreement and getting the land exchange initiative back on track,” said Ken Theis, Utah Coordinator for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Ensuring protection for the unparalleled wildlife habitat of this unique part of the Book Cliffs was our highest conservation goal in Utah.
This agreement will provide an opportunity for long-term planning that will also benefit Utah’s school children.”
The Book Cliffs contains exceptional backcountry fishing for native trout in West Willow Creek, a Blue Ribbon Fishery and some of the highest quality habitat for big game. Every year, some of Utah’s biggest mule deer bucks and bull elk come from this remote place.
Book Cliffs leasing blindsides sportsmen, threatens to derail protection efforts
Sportsmen expressed dismay Monday after learning that the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands (SITLA) Board secretly voted to lease a large portion of the Book Cliffs, a prized hunting and fishing area in eastern Utah, for oil and gas development last week.
The Book Cliffs is a critical area for conservation in the state of Utah. The announcement threatens to derail a broad collaborative effort led by Congressman Rob Bishop to find solutions on wilderness issues in Utah, a process sportsmen have supported.
Without signaling its intentions to Congressman Bishop, Governor Herbert's office, or any other participant in that process, SITLA agreed to lease more than 80,000 acres of the Book Cliffs to a petroleum company, Anadarko.
"This was a blindside hit," said Bill Christensen, Regional Director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. "Everyone in this process knew that we couldn't get a deal without something in it for sportsmen, and that the Book Cliffs represent a critical area for Utah's big game herds and a remarkable place to hunt and fish. We'd been discussing the area as part of a land exchange for a long time. So, to have it yanked out from under us without a word from SITLA feels like a slap in the face--not just to us, but to everyone engaged in this process."
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters.