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Lt. Gov Cox Calls For Understanding On Public Lands Issues

As leaders throughout the state met at the outdoor recreation summit in Midway last week, they heard admonishings from Utah’s Lt. Governor to reach an understanding on public lands issues.

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox addressed recreation leaders at the state’s outdoor recreation summit in Midway last week. Cox’s speech ended with words about public lands issues in Utah.

“As I travel the state and as I meet with people on both sides of the issue and specifically on the public lands issue, when I have the chance to actually sit down and talk to them, I’m telling you at the end of the day we all care about the same things and ultimately, we all want the same things. Now it’s how we get those same things that we differ on at times, but if we will actually take time to sit down and listen and understand most of these problems are easily solvable and most of us will agree on solutions. Now I admit fully that there are extremes on both sides that will never agree and will never be satisfied.”

Lt. Governor Cox has words of advice for his conservative friends when it comes to public lands discourse.

“I tell my conservative friends all the time, you need to convince the other side that you care more about this land and you know what? They do care about the land. They get very frustrated and say, ‘I hate that I keep getting painted as someone who wants to rape and pillage the land, that’s not true’. My family has been in the same place on the very edge of a national forest for seven generations. On the same farm that my great-great-great-grandfather settled over 160 years ago. We care about those mountains more than any environmentalist in the world I promise you. This is where we have lived, it’s where we have recreated we want to protect and preserve those mountains. Unfortunately, conservatives far too often talk about people and economics and not enough about the land and how much we care and admire and love the land.”

Lt. Governor Cox also has advice for his liberal friends regarding public lands issues.

“The same thing is absolutely true on the opposite side and I tell my liberal friends this all of the time. The problem you have is that people don’t think you care about people that you only care about trees. If you don’t care about people they’re never going to listen to you. They’re never going to care about what you have to say until they know you care about them. So, if you really want to make strides you need to go into these rural communities, you need to get to know people who have lived on that land for 160 years and you need to understand their perspective. Then you need to help them understand how what you want to accomplish will actually benefit them in significant ways. Some of them economically as well, that’s where we get real understanding and that’s where we start to see change.”

The Lt. Governor finished his speech by admonishing recreation leaders to look to rural communities for their workforce.

“We’ve had some amazing success stories. When you say hey, I have this incredible company I have an opportunity, I’m trying to hire and we’re having a hard time because the Wasatch Front unemployment is at three percent and I can’t hire enough people. Let me tell you, you start looking at moving some of your operations or allowing people to work remotely in rural Utah. You start providing jobs, and not just jobs that provide minimum wage versus a $50,000 or $60,000 a year job that has been displaced, but you’re actually giving them jobs that they can raise a family on. You know what will happen? They will become your staunchest defenders. Those rural folks will be your best employees, your hardest working employees, your most loyal employees and they will stand up for what you believe in and they will want to also protect the land that we care so deeply about. That’s my plea to you, not to forget about us in rural Utah. I had a legislator once say, ‘why should I care about what happens out there in the sticks?’ and I said, ‘well, I can’t think of any reason if you don’t care about your energy, your water, your food or your recreation, there’s really no reason to care about rural Utah. Turns out he does care about those things and I know that you guys do too.”

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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