WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) today introduced the bicameral Shawnee Wilderness Area Designation Act of 2019, legislation to lock up 289,000 acres of land in Illinois and make it part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Earlier this week, they condemned legislation introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) that betrays an agreement to designate nearly one million acres in Emery County for multiple use, which was made as part of the Natural Resources Management Act, the public lands package signed into law earlier this year.
“Senators in the East shouldn’t be telling people in the West what to do with our land,” Senator Romney said. “If wilderness is so important to Senator Durbin, he doesn’t need to go all the way to Utah to designate it. Our bill would designate the 289,000 acres of national forest in Illinois as wilderness so he can save himself a trip across the country and enjoy the wilderness in his own backyard.”
“One good deed deserves another. One bad bill demands another,” Congressman Bishop said. “This week, Senator Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill to lock-up more than 8.2 million acres of land in Utah. Today, Utah members introduced a bill to designate 289,000 acres of wilderness in Illinois. The acreage should be larger, but only 1.1% of Illinois is federally owned compared to more than 65% in Utah. The new designation may not make sense for Illinois, but neither does Durbin’s arbitrary bill. I look forward to both of them going nowhere.”
An agreement and compromise made by conservation, recreation, mineral development, ranchers, and elected officials, the Emery County Public Land Management Act resolved a decades-long controversy over federal land designations in Emery County. It designates nearly one million acres in Emery County for multiple use including recreation, conservation, development, and grazing.