Red-rock canyons, wide-open plateaus and steep, rugged mountains: Utah has been my home for over half a century. I feel a strong sense of connection to this state, its people and its landscapes, as many of us feel toward the places we call home.
Here in the rural American West, that connection to the land is still very much alive, especially for the cultures that are inextricably linked to these sandstone mesas and high alpine meadows. Ranchers are intimately familiar with the lands on which they run livestock. Hunters know where to find elk and deer in late fall. Native Americans have inhabited these landscapes since time immemorial and still harvest herbs, collect firewood and perform ceremonies on their ancestral grounds. As Westerners, we feel a sense of ownership over public lands not only because we use them, but because we belong to them and have stewarded them for generations.
Over time, our national monuments commemorate the contributions of underrepresented portions of our history and population. Today there is a proposal for a new national monument in Utah that recognizes and celebrates human relationships to land.