As the 50th Anniversary of Canyonlands National Park approaches next month, Utahans and others across the country who love the area are pushing for President Obama to declare the 1.8 million acres of public lands surrounding the park as a new Greater Canyonlands National Monument.
The area is a haven for recreationists-- from river rafters to climbers to jeepers -- but it is under increasing pressure from oil and gas development, potash mining, and even tar sands strip mining. Such industrialization in the heart of Utah's recreation economy -- not to mention at the center of the Colorado River watershed, which provides water for more than 30 million Americans -- would forever mar this still-wild landscape. (Not a single power line traverses the proposed monument area.)
To illustrate the importance of protecting Greater Canyonlands for future generations, groups of young people and college students have created a series of short films shot in the area. The first in this series features students from Brigham Young University (BYU) – an institution owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – as they explore the stunning cliffs and canyons of Greater Canyonlands and view encroaching oil and gas development that threatens to degrade the region’s exquisite natural beauty.
"Greater Canyonlands is a place of immense spiritual and cultural value," says BYU student Sarah Karlinsey, "and we feel the weight of our responsibility as stewards to ensure that these beauties are preserved for our future families. It is our hope that President Obama will protect this cherished place by proclaiming it a national monument to be protected for all time."