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Protecting a One-of-a-Kind Place

Jeff Clay

Clayton Daughenbaugh has lived in the Chicago area since 1985. But he’s heavily involved in preserving a wilderness area in southern Utah.

“If you wanted to get an idea what the frontier was like, this is one of those places,” Daughenbaugh said of the Red Rock Canyonlands. “It’s a unique and special landscape.”

Daughenbaugh is the Midwest Regional Organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and he volunteers for the Sierra Club.  He brought his message about the Red Rocks region to Western Illinois University, and his visit included a stop at the Tri States Public Radio studios.

Daughenbaugh said people from around the globe visit the Canyonlands and he’s urging everyone to lobby Congress to pass America's Red Rock Wilderness Act. He said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is the lead sponsor of the measure. Daughenbaugh said the legislation will be reintroduced this spring.

“America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would basically keep wild the places that are currently wild – keep them the way they are today,” Daughenbaugh said.

Credit Clayton Daughenbaugh
Advocates for preserving the Red Rock Canyonlands fear the land could be damaged by oil and gas drilling.

He said there are proposals to alter the landscape – to build roads, build oil and gas wells, and/or to do tar sands mining.  He said the wilderness act would protect the Canyonlands, which the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance called, “The largest network of undesignated wilderness lands remaining in the lower 48 states.”

Daughenbaugh cautioned it might be difficult to pass the legislation through a Congress that remains heavily polarized.

He said his family has made many trips to the region over the years. He said the area got into his blood, which is why he works for the Alliance.  And he has a recommendation for anyone who visits the Red Rock Canyonlands.

“Get out of the car, find a trail, take walk,” he said. “See it. Feel it. Get some dust on you.”

Rich is TSPR's News Director.