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Emery County's late-lamented heritage

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Dear HCN,

The issues of tourism and formal designation of special status for the San Rafael Swell have once again surfaced. As I remember, the last time the people of Emery County had this much debate about development issues was in the early 1970s. At that time there was a very tiny minority who spoke in favor of mining tourists, mining coal and keeping our water for agriculture and diverse growth. This faction lost the debate. We mined the coal, but shunned the tourists, and sold the majority of our water to one entity - Utah Power & Light. Now UP&L; is long gone, replaced by Pacific Corp. and whatever multinational conglomerate that has bought (or is buying, or will buy) them.

How ironic that some of the same naive voices who promised such a bright future in the early 1970s now lament our loss of heritage and our dim economic prospects. Now we speak of protecting "local interests" from "outsiders" and of working with "good politicians" with the "right kind of values." We speak of preserving "our heritage and access to the land" - whatever the hell that means (I guess our 10- or 15-year-old history of driving four-wheelers anywhere we damn well please).

Anyway, all I know is that when the decision is made in some faraway corporate board room or political chamber to sell San Rafael River water to the lower Colorado River Basin states, you can kiss our lately lamented heritage good-by.

Because our heritage and our future will be going down the toilets of countless Southern California homes! And if recent political maneuvering is any indication, the water transfer will have the blessing of two lauded institutions that are held up by some of my neighbors as the purveyors and protectors of the "right kind of values" - the Farm Bureau and the governor.

Oh well, Emery County can be proud of the fact that it beat out Carbon by one place for the county with the lowest population growth during the 1990s. This achievement makes me hearken to a favorite saying of past and present political wags: "We didn't do it for our own sake; we did it for the children." Give me a break - I've got a little farming to do, and a few tourists that need milking.

Gary George
Ferron, Utah

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