Provo, Utah, has the lucky privilege of being situated next to some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. From where I’m living as I write this they’re only about a ten minute walk away. There’s hiking trails, climbing, camping, waterfalls, etc. Its really pretty amazing. Yet, for some reason the city is considering granting a permit to mine Rock Canyon, the primary portal for the mountains within the city. Obviously they have their reasons, which I’m sure are compelling for them. However, because this particular area is an invaluable community resource (not to mention that from everything that I’ve read it’s not especially valuable as a mine), I am opposed to this change. Of course, this is a relatively small area that most people will never go to. However, my assumption is that all communities have a vested interest in protecting the distinctive natural resources that make them special. So, this is my letter to the Provo City Planning commission expressing my thoughts:
I have recently learned of a debate over the future of Rock Canyon. I am not a geologist, a miner, or a businessman, and so I’m hardly qualified to comment on the economic pros and cons surrounding this issue. Instead, I’m a person who sometimes walks in Rock Canyon simply to look at its natural beauty. My perspective then, is of a person who believes that Rock Canyon is a precious resource, not for its economic potential—which admittedly may be great—but rather for its potential as a place of refuge and wilderness in this small corner of the world.
Author and professor Wallace Stegner once said that wilderness is “something that has helped form our character and that has certainly shaped our history as a people.” Though he was speaking generally of the United States, he might as well have been talking about us, the modern-day citizens of Utah. Our history is marked by a deep relationship with and respect for the land. The prospect that we might exchange some small but beautiful piece of that land for short-term prosperity saddens me; how, I’m left to wonder, will future generations understand their heritage without one of the wild spaces that was present everyday in the lives of their ancestors? Where will our children go when they need refuge from the world? What will it mean to our community if we irreversibly alter one of the places that make us unique?
I sincerely hope that the values of our community include the preservation of beautiful and wild places like Rock Canyon. It is a place that brings me joy and peace and that unites us as a public. More importantly, and again to quote Wallace Stegner, “something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed.” I pray that we as a people in Provo conserve a patch of wilderness so that others can be blessed as we are.