Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

Canyons of the Escalante: A National Ecoregion

The Escalante Canyons and the surrounding area are a unique and splendid landscape which also has considerable interest by recreationists and preservationists. The Canyons of the Escalante Ecoregion idea was presented in 1994 as a collaborative effort between the National Park Service, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, the U.S. Forest Service, the Utah Travel Council, the BLM, Garfield County, the Utah Department of Natural Resources, and Kane County. The goal of the proposal was to create a special designation of the Escalante Canyons region that protected the land while also utilizing traditional land use values and creating economic growth for the surrounding communities.

The land area included in the designation would be divided into four different categories. Wild Lands would be areas that are in their pristine condition with little to no evidence of man; many of these areas were already designated as WSA or Wilderness. Natural Lands were areas that showed evidence of man’s presence (roads, trails, abandoned mines, structures, etc.) yet are still deserving of having their natural beauty and values protected. No new permanent structures or manmade features would be allowed. Multiple Use Lands would follow the current land management policy and principles of Multiple Use Lands. Enterprise Lands would be areas specifically designated and set aside for development and maximization of economic gains.

Other concerns raised in the drafts of this proposal concerned the finances of such a park. Since such a project would require cooperation between many different agencies each controlling parcels of land within the park, financial operations would also have to be coordinated. Funds would be raised by a series of fees and taxes such as a user fee to enter the park and new local taxes on things such as hotels and restaurants. Emphasis would be placed on taxes and fees aimed at tourists, who would be the primary users of the park. The proposal never proceeded past preliminary stages because of the designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument by President Clinton in 1996.

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Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service