Saturday, May 06, 2017

With National Monuments Under Review, Bears Ears Is Focus Of Fierce Debate

A lot of the anger over federal public land in rural Utah today can be traced back to a windy, gray day in Arizona in September 1996. At the Grand Canyon, President Bill Clinton formally designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, more than 100 miles away. "On this remarkable site, God's handiwork is everywhere in the natural beauty of the Escalante Canyons," he said. But Clinton didn't set foot in Utah. The planning for the monument was largely done in secret, and state leaders had little warning it was coming. Now, nearly 21 years later, mistrust toward the federal government persists, in the tightknit, mostly Mormon town of Blanding, Utah. Folks can't help but draw a parallel to how President Barack Obama's sweeping Bears Ears National Monument ended up in their backyard. "I don't understand how it would protect the land when you're inviting thousands of footprints in," says Laura O'Donnell. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is keeping a promise to travel into rural Utah beginning this weekend to hear from locals who live around the new 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears monument and the established 1.8 million-acre Grand Staircase monument to the west. The Trump administration has launched a 45-day review over whether large national monuments like these that protect federal land should be rescinded or shrunk. In Blanding, Zinke's visit is highly anticipated. Here, opposition to the monument runs deeper than the usual anxieties in sagebrush country about adding more protections to public land that would restrict future mining and other development. "Monuments should be an honor to an area, and we feel like this one is nothing but a punishment," says Jami Bayles, who founded a group called the Stewards of San Juan County... There are deep pockets behind the campaign to protect Bears Ears...more

 Go to the link on deep pockets and you will see the proponents received money from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Conservation Alliance, the Conservation Lands Foundation and others.
Makes you wonder how much foundation money has flowed in here to the NM Wilderness Alliance, the Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Green Chamber of Commerce.

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