VIDEO: High school students have high hopes for the future of Greater Canyonlands

Salt Lake City high school students hiking in the  Greater Canyonlands.
© Sierra Club

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.)

When Utah high school student Kelsey Oliver learned about the campaign to convince President Obama to protect Greater Canyonlands she leapt into action, organizing a student excursion to the area. In this short video (the second in a series of five short films on the importance of Greater Canyonlands to young people) Kelsey and her fellow Rowland Hall High School students reflect on what Greater Canyonlands means to them and what they hope for its future. "Anyone who sees how beautiful this land is will know it needs to be preserved," reflects one student. "It offers so much awe and inspiration to every visitor."

Salt Lake City high school students call for Greater Canyonlands National Monument from Sierra Club National on Vimeo.

"We were stunned at how destructive oil and gas drilling is to the landscape," said another; "you can't undo the damage."

"Greater Canyonlands should be considered a place too sacred to drill," concludes Kelsey. "If we drill here, what is safe?"

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