Utah Chapter News
Monday, June 18, 2012
Utah BHA held its first Chapter “Rendezvous” near Strawberry Reservoir in the foothills of the Uinta Mountains the first weekend in June. Margo Taylor designed an eye-catching invitation which Ken Theis, Utah Coordinator, emailed to Utah members and took the lead for follow up. John Pollard (Utah Chapter founder) scouted out a dandy drive-in dispersed campground and generously provided barbecued elk burgers for Saturday’s dinner.
Margo, Ken, and Chairman Jay Banta providedtasty side-dishes. Members Fred Sanders and Josh Leavitt joined the group and Josh graciously distributed ultra-lightweight titanium knives of his own design and construction; the perfect BHA “party favor!” Secretary/treasurer Bill Eckerle set up archery backstops in a aspen clearing.
The great food and good company soon produced passionate conversation about Utah backcountry preservation issues. Recently
H.R.3452, "Wasatch Range Recreation Access Enhancement Act," movedout of committee under a narrow vote on party lines and onto the U.S. House Floor. This bill mandates sale of a portion of a Proposed Wilderness Area (H.R. 4267) into private hands to construct a gondola, called “SkiLink” to transport mostly out of state skiers by connecting one canyon ski resort to another through what is now backcountry. SkiLink construction, maintenance, and operation will negatively impact quality elk habitat and the visual intrusion of the lift towers, cables, and gondola will dramatically degrade the hunting experience. This pending bill is an attempted Congressional end run around the Forest Service’s permitting process in order to advance the interest of a very few resort owners. According to a recent State and local government funded survey, a strong majority of Salt Lake Valley resident’s only support ski area expansion when undertaken as part of the normal Forest Service permitting process. Most importantly, H.R.3452 is representative of more general interest among Utah’s Republican delegation’s “taking” of hunters’ long-cherished Public Lands in order to sell and lease to private interests.
As evening came, a highlight of the Rendezvous was Jay Banta’s presentation of the first “Old Ephraim Conservation Award” to John Pollard for ramrodding the creation of the Utah Chapter. This award, named in commemoration of the last wild grizzly bear to roam Utah,is a fitting tribute to John’s hard work and activism on issues affecting the backcountry.
See attached photo of award presentation:
Caption – Utah Co-chair presents Utah Chapter founder with the Old Ephraim Conservation Award.