Discord From Lawmakers At Mountain Accord Hearing
The Mountain Accord is a plan for protecting the canyons outside the state's most populated county. But the local management plan ran into national politics Tuesday as the coalition behind the Mountain Accord delivered a unified pitch to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Federal Lands.
“You had more than 200 stakeholders over a couple of years come to a broad bipartisan support for this bill,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, sponsor of a bill that takes the next steps to implement the lands plan.
“We happen to live in Utah – particularly Utah’s Third Congressional District – one of the most beautiful places on the planet.”
Chaffetz was flanked by two mayors, Sandy Republican Tom Dolan and Salt Lake City Democrat Jackie Biskupski. The U.S. Forest Service, a ski resort executive, a transportation leader and a conservationist – they all praised legislation that allows land exchanges, fixes wilderness boundaries and offers a path forward to clear up frequent traffic jams.
But Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., openly doubted the compromise. He blamed “liberal” conservationists for a history of bad deals.
“The concessions were all to environmentalists, were all enshrined in the bill,” he said, challenging Chaffetz. “Everything else was a promise that we found out wasn’t kept.”
McClintock wondered aloud if Mountain Accord backers would wind up like those who supported a 2009 Utah lands bill.
“The local government officials all say, ‘We were screwed,’ because that’s what happened in St. George.”
The Mountain Accord bill -- formally called the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act -- has to pass both chambers to become law, but there are just a few working days left before the current congressional session ends. And it’s not clear whether committee members have changes in mind for the bill.