Utah Rep. Chris Stewart issued a press release Wednesday detailing efforts to revisit the creation of the Escalante Canyons Park and Preserve, a potential sixth national park in Utah.
The proposed Grand Staircase Escalante Enhancement Act is a revival of efforts by Stewart in 2017. In the original 2017 legislation, the proposed park would contain 100,000 acres of land in southeastern Utah including many slot canyons, rock formations and landscapes carved by the Escalante River.
Boundaries for the park are still being discussed with the local communities, but are expected to remain within the Escalante Canyons unit of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
his latest version of the legislation has been updated to address primary areas of concern about the proposed national park, especially from locals. It is local concern about potential impacts on usage of the land that is the basis for one of the six provisions to the bill listed in a press release by Stewart’s office.
“Creates a “Management Council” comprised of local officials,” the provision reads, “To draft and oversee a management plan for the new monuments and National Park, giving local leaders a powerful voice and seat at the table.”
Other provisions listed also addressed matters such as hunting, fishing, trapping and grazing within the potential park all managed under the National Park Service.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument currently encompasses 1 million acres and contains three distinct units: Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits and Escalante Canyon.
During Stewart’s 2017 attempt to pass legislation in favor of the Escalante Canyons Park and Preserve, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that scaled the Escalante National Monument from an original 1.9 million acres to its current 1 million.
The order was signed to open up mining and drilling that is prevented on national monument land as well as ease pressure on logging, grazing, road building and recreation that can be strictly regulated or prevented depending on the monument’s management rules.
A 2020 version of Stewart’s Grand Staircase Escalante Enhancement Act has yet to be received by the Library of Congress, but is expected to include a plan for the continued use of the land for these purposes under management.
Story by: Mikyla Bagley
Photos courtesy of SUU Journal Archives