The public land surrounding Utah's prized national parks is characterized by intricate canyons, arches, buttes, vast expanses of slickrock, red and salmon colored pinnacles, a variety of form and color unparalleled anywhere else on the planet ... and immense solitude and silence. Southern Utah harbors nothing less than a landscape of magic -- a landscape that belongs to you and to all Americans.
Multiple use under attack by SUWA
may be too late to be involved in planning the future of the Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument, but it is not too late to prevent similar occurrences
on other public lands.
A stunningly beautiful area with many outdoor recreation
An Issue of Monumental Proportions
Southern Utah is the unwilling home of Slick
Willy's Grand Reelection National Monument. A byproduct of election-year
(excerpt from Outside Magazine).
The Economics of Wilderness Creation
Can anybody tell me how much money Robert
Redford (a SUWA supporter) has made from his developments bordering Wilderness
SUWA has a web site with information concerning the future of Southern Utah's open spaces. They seem to be in favor of closing roads all over the state of Utah -- The San Rafael Swell is the next target. While I don't agree with all they are trying to accomplish, I am glad someone is doing more than thinking about preserving the landscape. Cynical I am - stoopid I ain't. Just wish they weren't so anti-road.
Road Closures and "Study Areas"
Several of the road closures in the Monument
area are labeled as "wilderness study areas". I have a favorite spot near
Boulder. I'll tell you how to find it, but I urge you to go out and find
your own favorite spot.
For a glimpse at some of the disputes that have been brewing over the status of the monument, read an editorial/ article at the Sierra Club site. You can also read a good article on the monument, and the people who inhabit the area, from the Salt Lake Tribune. It seems as if the disagreements have toned down a bit lately, but opposing views still keep people from getting along.
Several years back -- during the "Cattle Free
by '93" days -- ranchers found livestock dead from gunshot wounds. During
the paving of the road from Boulder to the Burr trail, equipment and machinery
were sabotaged - sugar in fuel tanks, flattened tires, etc.
More recent Events:
Some of the folks in Escalante and Boulder
reported that around Spencer Flat, and other parts of the monument, roads
were being closed by a BLM employee. Reportedly acting on his own, he was
hammering closure signs into roadways (making it appear that they were
legally closed). These closures were not sanctioned (officially) by the
BLM, but were happening anyway. Too bad it is so difficult to fire a federal
employee once they are hired. I don't think I want any of my tax dollars
going to pay this guy's salary. I don't even want him volunteering....
unless perhaps he wants to head out to Antarctica, Siberia, or some other
far-away place. Oughta be plenty enough roadless areas there....
The environmental sector wants "wilderness". The locals, (excluding a few select newbies) descendants of the Pioneers who settled the area, want multiple-use to continue. BLM envisions (spelled: "it's gonna happen") an "outdoor museum", but is not clear on who gets to see it. Personally, I am a big fan of multiple-use, and allowing the roads to remain open. There are currently hundreds of miles of pack trails in the area if you want to really get away. There are also some folks who live in the area who can't enjoy those trails anymore. Years of ranching, farming, bronc-busting, (and the occasional exposure to Agent Orange during the 'Nam era) have left these area residents unable to get about as they once did. Who are the Sierra Club and SUWA to tell them that they can't use the old roads to get out and see the country that their forefathers settled?
By the way SUWA/ Sierra Clubbers, when some
day you are no longer physically able to pack in to the wilderness, will
you still believe in protecting the land by keeping people off of it? Will
you still lobby for more road closures? Will you be content to view your
wilderness from the trail head?
Because I'm in favor of the old roads remaining open, and a sensible mutiple-use plan, does not mean I'm in favor of destroying the area. I'm also opposed to developers-in-environmentalist-clothing, and holier-than-thou "environmentalists" without a clue. There are currently coal mines, natural gas wells, sand and gravel operations, and other established industries in this so-called "wilderness" area. Those areas that are already developed needed to be excluded from the monument. Other locales within the monument are not "wilderness" for other reasons. The final plan did not account for the pre-existing conditions that should exclude developed areas from the wilderness plan. Many of the old roads are not even on the new maps (this is a widespread occurrence, and all you need to do is compare some USGS maps to verify the fact).
If you were a cattle rancher, farmer, or other
person working on this land to make a living, how would you feel if your
government told you you had to find a new occupation because your historic
range was now "wilderness"? Is this progress, or government BS? What would
you do, if after a land "trade" with BLM, you discovered that the water
they guaranteed you did not exist? So, your former range that had creek
access is now "wilderness", and you can't run cattle unless you truck the
I believed that a sensible compromise was
possible. How naive! All the publicity has irrevocably changed the area,
inflated land prices will continue to rise, and creation of the monument
will end up causing more commercial development than it prevents. The big
question facing all sides of this dispute is not if, but where,
the development will happen. If any of you are familiar with the Sedona,
Arizona, or Durango, Colorado areas of today, and can also remember what
they were like twenty years ago (or even ten!), you will understand part
of what is transpiring in southern Utah.
The Planning Process
I was told by some of the folks that participated
in the BLM Planning Process:
The road closures and travel restrictions within the Monument may be a done deal, and maybe not, as rumours of suits by effected County and other Utah governmental agencies are circulating. We can still stop the Forest Service and BLM from continuing their agenda of closing roads around the monument, and in our own back yards. Anyone with an interest in the area needs to pay attention. There are more shenanigans on the way, endorsed by Sierra Club, SUWA, and other extremist environmental groups. Don't allow further closures!
Excerpt from ALRA page:
"What hurt the people of Utah on the
Grand Staircase Monument was that their elected officials did not take
aggressive action soon enough. They believed the White House."
Call your Congressman at (202) 225-3121 to
voice your displeasure over these land-grabs, road closures, and other
travel and access restrictions. Remind them that these are our
lands, and we have a right to visit, and drive through, them. Ask that
a letter be written to the White House opposing these actions now and that
a copy of the letter go to you. Call both your Senators at (202) 224-3121
to urge them to do the same thing. Writing is known to create more impact
than telephoning. After you call, please write with the same kind of request.
The American Land Rights Association has a web page with information on more road closures coming your way (it could be your back yard next!). To learn more, call the American Land Rights Association at (360)687-3087, and visit their alert page.
To see the Grand Staircase Approved Management Record of Decision go to the BLM's Grand Staircase page.
If you are content with road closures, excessive
regulation, bogus study areas, and staying away from "sensitive" areas
on your visits to the Grand Staircase, or any public lands, you
don't need to contact BLM, your senator, or your congressman. For that
matter, you may not be able to get out at all unless you plan on packing
in, flying over, or just spending time by the pool at the local Holiday
Inn. Might just as well stay home and watch it on the Discovery channel.
Northern Arizona has had another
of these Land Grabs, but land usage decisions have yet to be made. If you
value being able to travel the back roads, getting away from the crowds,
and being able to see your land, you want to become involved.
go to Woody's Photo Pages.
This diatribe is occasionally maintained by Woody.
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