Monday, January 16, 2017

Op-Ed - Land management should benefit all Utahns, not just a select few

By Matthew Anderson

When Black Diamond CEO Emeritus Peter Metcalf called on the Outdoor Retailer trade show to leave the state by 2018 over concerns with our state's land management policies, he used unsubstantiated arguments to make his case. Such rhetoric can prevent us from reaching viable land management solutions. This article addresses three of Metcalf's assertions. Quote: "Over the past several months Utah's political leadership has unleashed an all-out assault against Utah's protected public lands and Utah's newest monument." Objections to the Bears Ears National Monument raised by local, state and federal officials range from the process by which it was designated to the economic harm the decision might have on the people of San Juan County. Among their concerns is the federal government's inability to adequately protect the area under a monument designation. During last summer, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she was "shocked" at the lack of protection for the area's cultural resources. This is quite alarming. According to federal laws, it is her job to protect the pottery, cliff dwellings and petroglyphs in the area. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, who are charged with managing Utah's newest monument, have a combined deferred maintenance backlog of almost $6 billion. Simply put, these federal land management agencies are strapped for cash and do not have the funding to keep up with the increased traffic a monument designation will likely bring the Bears Ears, putting the area's cultural and archaeological resources in harm's way.

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