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Utah Senate Democrats Conclude 3-day Tour of Moab & Bears Ears National Monument

April 22, 2021

State Senators Derek Kitchen (D-Salt Lake City) and Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights) completed a weekend tour of Grand & San Juan Counties. In Moab, they met with Council Member Tawny Knuteson-Boyd to discuss the variety of issues facing residents. The City of Moab and the surrounding region have experienced economic successes, but the rapid growth and the pressures on the community have been challenging to manage.

“In many ways, Moab is a microcosm of the issues facing much of Utah. Explosive growth is putting enormous pressure on our critica

l infrastructure, such as roads and housing,” said Derek Kitchen. The Senator from Salt Lake City also noted that, “it’s important to balance opportunities for community and economic development while supporting the quality of life of Moab residents.”

According to recent estimates, the outdoor recreation economy in Utah alone accounts for 83,000 direct jobs, nearly $740 million in state and local taxes, and $ 3.2 billion in wages and salaries.

Following the Senators’ stop in Moab, they later met with local leaders and parents of Grand County School District at a round table breakfast. Sen. Kitchen and Sen. Riebe took a tour of the new Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School, where Board Member Melissa Byrd shared her vision for the new school, and Principal Cari Caylor and Vice Principal Libby Bailey discussed the architecture and community benefits of the new facility.

“The past year has revealed just how critically important our teachers and schools are to a stable and thriving community,” said Senator Kathleen Riebe, a teacher in the Granite School District. “Despite all the uncertainty and disruption of 2020, our teachers have continued to show up and provide a sense of stability for our families and communities.” The two Democratic senators discussed at length about how education funding has changed and increased, but the Utah Legislature will need to use additional resources to support our communities and mitigate an interrupted school year due to these unprecedented times.

After their time in Moab, the senators continued to visit Monticello, Bluff, and Bears Ears National Monument. San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams shared his knowledge and passion for this region. Water, wind, education, and roads are paramount to a successful future. Bluff Council members Jim Sayers and Linda Sosa emphasized the need to manage our land and resources well.

After Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s visit to the region, Senator Kitchen and Senator Riebe thought it important that elected officials in state government continue to take the time to visit with local leaders and the community at large. “It is important to me that we craft a permanent solution to the endless tug-of-war that we have seen. I want to understand how the community feels so that I can effectively advocate for responsible stewardship in the state legislature,” said Senator Derek Kitchen.

“People from all over the world come to visit these unique regions, and we need ensure that resources are available to protect these sacred lands while welcoming and educating visitors. We need the state of Utah and the Federal Government to work well together—that’s just good governance,” said Senator Riebe.


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