Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Grassroots efforts may have delayed monument

With an historic election in the rear view mirror and the arrival of winter weather, time is ticking on the presidency of Barack Obama. In less than two months, Obama will be replaced in Washington, DC by Donald Trump. What he does between now and January 21, 2017 could have a significant impact on San Juan County. It has been four months since Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell led a delegation of federal officials to the area to investigate the proposed Bears Ears National Monument. A coalition of environmental groups and Native American tribes joined together to seek the designation of a 1.9 million acre national monument. The massive monument proposal includes approximately 38 percent of the total landmass of San Juan County, with large sections of private, state, BLM and Forest Service land included. The proposal was met with a mixed response at a public meeting hosted by Jewell in Bluff. Large groups of environmental and tribal supporters attended the meeting, including a large number of people from outside of San Juan County. Local residents spoke in favor of and opposed to the designation, leaving the impression to many observers that local residents were split on the proposal. In response, a group of local residents banded together in a grassroots effort to fight the proposal. Efforts in the community, in the media, with elected officials and on the bumpers of local cars have combined to build awareness of the significant local opposition to the monument. While there are still voices in favor of the proposal, including local residents who serve on the Navajo Nation Tribal Council, the voices opposed to the monument seem to have drowned out the voices of supporters in local circles...more

I'll believe it when I see it. For the two NM monuments there was a period of four months between Jewell's "listening sessions" and Obama bringing the hammer down. The folks at Owyhee and Bears Ears can't breathe easily until Obama walks out the door.

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