Monday, July 18, 2016

Headlines from Jewell's Utah visit and my 7 takeaways

Jewell Wraps Up Utah Visit with Hot, Sometimes Heated Listening Session in San Juan County Hundreds of people descended on the tiny town of Bluff over the weekend to have a voice on public-lands decisions being made in Washington. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell got an earful during her hours long listening session Saturday here in southeastern Utah. But she thanked everyone who endured the summer heat and crowding at the Bluff community center...

Jewell 'shocked' at lack of protection for Bears Ears cultural resources"What I have seen on this trip and especially here is this incredible treasure trove of cultural resources" that she said stretched far beyond her expectations. "It's beyond imagination. I am also shocked at the lack of protection for many of these assets."...

 Emotions run hot as nearly 2,000 plead their case over potential monument designation For many of these residents who live in San Juan County, they know this federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service is not something they own, but they live on it, feel it, breathe it and work it. And yes, they say they care for it. Just as strongly, a majority of Native American tribal members who live in the Four Corners region claim ancestral and modern-day connections to the land, and they're tired of the looting, the vandalism, weary of oil and gas development that threatens their landscape, of potash or uranium mining that may alter the land...

Tribune Editorial: Public Lands Initiative is too little, too late But it wouldn't create a monument in San Juan County, and that is what's behind Jewell's high-profile journey through southeastern Utah. Indian tribes and environmentalists have coalesced around the idea of a national monument in the sacred lands surrounding the Bears Ears that would give Native Americans a unique management role to preserve both the heritage of their past and their traditions still practiced. With Bishop and Rep. Jason Chaffetz unwilling to go there — in large part because their PLI process was driven by county commissioners in San Juan and elsewhere — the Indians have turned to President Obama to declare the monument under the Antiquities Act...

Before a packed meeting, Interior Secretary Jewell sees harm visitors are causing at proposed Bears Ears monument  Jewell crammed in two more stops Saturday before the meeting, ending a whirlwind four-day tour in which she tried to understand the diverse landscape — to the extent that it's possible when consistently dogged by reporters, photographers, conservationists and congressional aides. Later, on the way to view the stark relief of the Wolfman Panel in Butler Wash — on which the artisan uncommonly portrayed the panel's namesake with musculature, instead of the usual stick limbs — Ewing showed where a C-shaped Pueblo shrine had sat in recent years. Hikers have taken rocks to make cairns until nothing was left, he said, reiterating the need for better education as visitors continue to increase in the region...

Movement to create Utah monument leads to another Western land fight Laminated sheets of paper held in place by rocks rest inside ancient cliff dwellings nestled underneath a spectacular red rock overhang in southeastern Utah. “Don’t erase the traces of America’s past,” the signs read. “Please do not enter interior rooms.” The weathered signs and a similar warning at the trailhead are the only protections in place for these easily accessible ruins along a canyon hiking path. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited the area this week to meet with proponents and opponents — the latest indication the Obama administration is giving serious consideration to the “Bears Ears” monument proposal. The issue has become the latest battleground in the debate over public lands in the West...

Archaeological center calls for protection for Bears Ears The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center announced on Friday that it supports increased protection for the Bears Ears area, a day before U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other high-ranking Obama administration officials held a public meeting in Bluff. “The archaeology community supports the tribes in asking for increased protection for the Bears Ears area,” stated Deborah Gangloff, president and CEO of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center...

House effort to block monuments faces veto threat Republican Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah added a provision to an Interior Department spending bill that blocks money for any new monuments in portions of eight states, including 17 Utah counties. The House passed the bill Thursday, but the measure is expected to run into a filibuster from Senate Democrats and the White House veto threat...

Here are 7 quick takeaways:

° One mayor is quoted as saying a new President could "rescind" the monument designation.  That is incorrect.   A 1938 AG's Opinion says that while the Antiquities Act grants the President the authority to "proclaim" a national monument, nothing within the Act grants the authority to revoke or eliminate a monument.

° How ironic is it that the Salt Lake Tribune feels the Public Lands Initiative fails because it was so influenced by locally elected officials.

° Utah's Governor says there is still time for a legislative fix.  He's right, but Senate Democrats and Obama would have to get on board, and that is highly unlikely.

° There are many tools the administration could use to administratively protect these areas.  The current BLM Director is quoted as saying no matter the outcome of the visit, more resources should be devoted to the effort.  However, these tools require time - public input and NEPA documents - which the Obama adm. doesn't have.  And besides, they aren't as flashy as a Proclamation and won't add to Obama's "legacy".

° During her confirmation hearings and at previous "visits" of this type Sally Jewell has always said there must be a "consensus" in favor of a monument.  I don't believe she even whispered consensus on this trip, and I wonder why?

° The public relations groundwork has been done to establish resources are being damaged, and all points still lead me to believe a Proclamation is forthcoming.  It may not be as large as the proponents wish and probably won't contain the same co-management language supported by the Native American proponents, but one is on the way.

° Enviros are using the race card successfully.  The typical visitor to a Wilderness area, for instance, is an upper-income white male with an advanced degree. But in the case of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument one of their more effective lobbying tools was the involvement of Hispanic groups and leaders, and for the Bears Ears surely the voices of the Native Americans are the most appealing.  It's amazing how the enviros have turned one of their greatest weaknesses - the lack of minorities in the movement and their low visitation rates - into one of their greatest assets in placing more restrictions on federal land.

3 comments:

Dave Pickel said...

Frank,

How would designating Bears Ears as a National Monument significantly alter its current land use? Not much near as I can tell. This has more to do with poking the Obama administration in the eye than anything else.

Dave Pickel

Anonymous said...

The Obamay adm should be poked somewhere else.

Frank DuBois said...

Dave Pickel, anyone who is a regular reader of The Westerner knows the impact, positive or negative, depends upon the management language in the Proclamation. Search the blog for monuments, and you will see how the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks national monument will have a negative impact on livestock grazing and border security.