Rent a room, buy an acre • The paradox of a place like Salt Lake City is that it has become a sprawling megalopolis largely because so many people like to be near unspoiled open spaces. In addition to the city's permanent population, thousands of folks descend on the city every year for the Outdoor Retailers Summer Market, and many of them have a hard time finding a place to stay. Turning those seemingly contradictory facts into a solution for everyone is the idea behind a plan from Dave Robinson. The Lehi-based consultant is putting together a deal where the Outdoor Retailers will place its visitors in housing at the University of Utah and in numerous private homes and apartments. A share of the proceeds will be funneled into a plan to buy some 370 acres of privately owned land in the Wasatch Mountains and turn it over to the Forest Service to be set aside forever for the public to enjoy.
Do it for your air • We are not the only ones to deride Gov. Gary Herbert for entertaining the thought that voluntary, individual actions can make much of a dent in the horrible air pollution that parts of northern Utah increasingly suffer. But the governor is right when he says the solution will require lots of different actions from lots of different actors. One of those is properly moving along at the Utah Air Quality Board, which has drafted rules that would require many different chemical products sold in the state to come only in versions that emit smaller amounts of fumes and vapors. Restrictions on such things as hair gels, window cleaners and paint thinners are already required in 38 states, so nobody is reinventing the wheel here. The panel is also planning a ban on outdoor wood boilers, another contributor to the area's foul air. These are things that must be done to keep our community livable.
Feeding the Utah economy • Putting the lie to the idea that environmental protection and economic development are values that are at odds with one another, Utah Agriculture Commissioner Leonard Blackham last week announced the results of a Utah State University study that puts the value of the state's farming and food processing sectors at $17.5 billion annually. That creates 78,200 jobs even as it saves tons of pollution by allowing Utah tables to be laden with Utah-produced food, rather than products that have to be shipped hundreds or thousands of miles. Preserving this kind of economic development, with laws that help keep farmland in production rather than subdivided into yet more housing tracts, should be a Utah priority.