Environmentalists are shaking their heads in disgust at the thought of having a Utah highway named after President Donald Trump, especially one that winds through canyons and by public lands that he shrunk last year with the stroke of his presidential pen.
State legislators in a committee on Monday advanced a bill to tack the president’s name to the Utah National Parks Highway, in recognition of his controversial decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in December — by 1.1 million acres, or 85 percent, and by 800,000 acres, or 46 percent, respectively.
But those working to slow the bill’s traction are hopeful that without a full vote in the House or Senate yet, and without a Senate sponsor, the legislation doesn’t make it past the final night of session on Thursday.
The new proposal authored by Republican Rep. Michael Noel would designate more than 600 miles of road along Zion and Canyonlands national parks as the “Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway.” It would cost $124,000 to install 62 road signs along major junctions in 2019, according to the bill's fiscal note.
While Republican lawmakers have praised Trump for opening up the land to mining interests, the reduction drew intense backlash from conservationists and Native American tribes, who have challenged the Trump administration with five lawsuits.
Based in Utah, Power Practical, makers of the LED camp light Luminoodle, see the move in the legislature as adding insult to injury by recognizing a president who they feel disregards the places outdoor brands value greatly.
"Everyone at Power Practical feels like it’s really inappropriate to be honoring a guy who’s decreasing our public lands and slashing funding and is obviously against what makes Utah Utah," said David Toledo, VP of product.
"Honestly, I can’t say I’m too surprised that the Utah legislature would do something like this," he says. "If they want to name a highway after him, make it one going to a coal mine or something."
SNEWS also reached out to other businesses in Utah, including Tom Adams, Utah's Outdoor Recreation Director; Black Diamond; Backcountry; Cotopaxi and Coalatree for comment but have not heard back. Patagonia and KÜHL declined to provide perspectives.