Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Balancing Act

Utah is an interesting place to live. There is almost a saturation of the media promoting Utah's natural wonders as a tourist destination and millions of people, heeding the advertising, flock to the National Parks and Monuments in such great numbers that there a danger that their popularity will destroy the very objects of their adoration. At the same time, the entire state seems to resist adding any further "protection" to areas that are even more vulnerable. In the past few years, two huge areas of the state have been added to the roster of National Monuments, both bitterly opposed by some of the residents of the state.

As an example, in 2006 there were 2,589,250 visitors to Zion National Park in south-central Utah. By 2016, that number had grown to 4,317,028, just in that one National Park. Tourism is booming. The Utah Tourism Industry Association statistics for the Fall of 2016 show spending by tourists in Utah to be $8.17 billion dollars and 8.370 total visits were made to Utah's five National Parks. Despite this obvious incentive, the State of Utah seems to be turning its back on taking further advantage of this huge state benefit. Much of this money comes from people who live outside the state and do not require state supported services.

The opposition to the newer National Monuments seems entirely focused on the narrow issues of the expansion of activities that are not calculated to benefit the state at all, such as increased coal mining while alternative energy options are growing. Interesting.

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