Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Can a Debt-ridden Country Afford to Manage More Monuments?

OP-ed by Janet Wilcox.  Written in response to Antiquities Act Anniversary Charleston Gazette

More Million Acre Monuments in the West Cause More Disparity between East and West

Dear editor,
    For those living in the east, where most land is privately owned, and where parks and historic monuments are confined to reasonable sizes, [as specifically proscribed in the Antiquities Act] it may seem strange that Utah has been vigorously fighting the Bears Ears Monument. But San Juan County where this 1.3 Million acre National Monument lies has some of the roughest, unfriendly land in the west. Early cowboy, Al Scorup emphasized, “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow” (or a tourist, we might add.)  Well-funded environmental web sites (SUWA, FCM, Sierra Club, GCTF) sites like to paint Bears Ears with with strokes of a romanticized West with its wide open spaces, roughhewn rocks, ancient dwellings, deserts, mountains and starry skies.  On the other hand, they may go for the fear factor, claiming rampant desecration of sacred sites, fear of oil pumps and hence the need for more protection of lands already multi-layered with existing BLM and Wilderness protections. Neither image accurately describes  Bears Ears territory.

 Though San Juan is the largest county in Utah (at 7,933 square miles, it’s bigger than many eastern states) only 8 % of the county is privately owned.  What if the county where you live only had 8% of its land available for business development, and jobs?  What if the land in your state was 64.9% controlled by the federal government? How would that impact state and county tax revenues as well as the funding of your schools, the upkeep of roads, and infrastructure, and funding for Search and Rescue teams?  The disparity between eastern vs. western states and their potential for self-governance and sovereignty is negatively affected when millions of acres of land become controlled by more federal bureaucracy in the form of a National Monument. This chart illustrates the great disparity in the West.

Public land has been managed in Utah by the BLM and US Forest Service for decades; they allow grazing rights, mineral leases, lumbering, etc. all of which helped to stabilize western economy. In addition, those agencies protect beautiful vistas, and ancient ruins.  However, when yet another layer of restrictions, via a Monument is added, the swamp of a self-serving bureaucracy reaches even deeper into the state of Utah.  Like our Navajo and Ute compatriots, we no longer trust the tangled web of promises made by a debt ridden federal government.  Many parts of this monument range from 6000 to 12,000 feet with long snowy winters. This is not your tourist friendly Concord Bridge, or Gettysburg. Many Ute, Navajo, Hispanic and Anglos who reply on wood for heating during 6 months of the year, must have access to fallen timber to make it through the winter, something that most monuments do not allow. 

On Oct. 5, 2016 the National Trust of Historic Preservation issued a press release stating, that “the Bears Ears region has been added to its 2016 list of 11 most endangered historical places.”  To the unwary mind, “historical preservation” seems like something we should all believe in.  But believe me, this is not a national organization you can “trust.”
Why did the federal government shift from preserving historic buildings and sites, to lassoing vast Utah landscapes like the Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears?  The antiquities act of 1906 was designed to protect specific features under immediate threat, not to be used as a landscape management tool.  The Obama administration overused this executive ax, hacking away at state sovereignty throughout the nation.  The U.S.  is now dealing with a $20 Trillion debt.  For the past two years, National Parks and Monuments were under a two-year deferred maintenance totaling nearly $11.5 Billion. Utah alone was behind $278,094,606 in park maintenance.  There is no money to support EXISTING parks, much less new ones.

San Juan County is already home to six of those federal destinations:  Natural Bridges Nat’l Monument, Hovenweep Nat’l Monument,, Canyonlands National Park, Dark Canyon Wilderness area, Grand Gulch Wilderness area, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.   We have learned from others’ mistakes, that tourist destinations have a heavy negative impact on public lands, especially when fragile ruins are part of that landscape.  Enough is enough.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reviewing The Antiquities Act Review: Six Form Letters Account for at least 75,437 Comments

Both opponents to the Bears Ears National Monument and proponents were zealously busy between May 12-26 during the Review period, encouraging their friends to write: however, it continued to be the same David vs. Goliath Battle.  Unfortunately, the Green Machine with their well-paid staff had  been busy designing form letters to feed to hundreds of Environmental Groups Nationwide.  So if you're only looking for repetitive messages, The Rescind the Monument team was out-numbered. But it could also mean Greenies are more easily manipulated, or don't know enough to write their own letters?  

Thanks to the tech skills of Wasatch Front Volunteer, Devin Bayles Hancock we discovered some interesting facts May 26, when the deadline ended. By running a simple search engine on the collection site, we discovered six form letters that were used.  There could even be more.  That means that 75,437 of the 149,669 
comments received were form letters submitted by various environmental proponents nationwide. That is 50% of the letters submitted. Here is the break down:

6)  Sixth place goes to the "50 Years Ago" form letters.  There were 2160 replicas of this copy-cat message which began: "Dear Secretary Ryan Zinke,
Bears Ears Monument should have been protected 50 years ago and deserves to be protected for future generations.  Please [dont] rescind or...." Note the typo which didn't even get fixed on most letters!

5)  Fifth place for most repetitive message goes to the "judicious use of the Antiquities Act" form letter with 3181 repeats.

4)  Jumping up to 4th place is the "ecologically rich and culturally valuable" form letter with 4,102 comments submitted.

3)  Third place for "Most Repetitive Message" goes to the Bird Watchers who can't watch without a Monument!!  15,333 results began:  Dear Secretary Ryan Zinke.  As a supporter of bird conservation and our public lands, I strongly urge you to protect . . .

2)   The runner up with a whopping 21,427 copies is this form letter beginning:  (Some people didn't even fill in the blank!)

1) And the #1 most repeated form letter as of June 9 begins:  "Dear Secretary Ryan Zinke, Our public lands are vital to our national legacy. [Theyre] economically beneficial to our local communities, and to our nation as a whole."    This form letter was used 29,234 times and most users did not correct the typo. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Official Stewards of San Juan Response to Secretary Zinke's Review Process

San Juan County Citizens have always loved access to public lands.  We deem it of our greatest treasures!

"The Stewards of San Juan County express gratitude to Secretary Zinke and his time in reviewing and preparing a recommendation to President Trump regarding the Bears Ears National Monument. This is a day of conflicting feelings for many residents of San Juan County and Americans battling ongoing issues regarding constitutional freedoms associated with land rights. 

A massively redundant Bears Ears National Monument designated in the most obscene unilateral way without the input of local citizen stakeholders, was never the answer. The stance of the Stewards of San Juan remains a request for a rigorous review of the Antiquities Act in order to prevent such unilateral measures and further protect the rights of all people. However, we are well aware this current recommendation is a measurable victory for rural Americans and local voices. As Native Americans, locals, business owners, land owners, cattlemen, farmers, recreation enthusiasts, educators, and conservation advocates, we appreciate this administration’s efforts in providing us the voice we sorely needed in this matter. 

We move forward with a conviction to work with our elected officials, local tribes and San Juan County residents to foster a plan indicative of the hearts and minds of this community and love of this beautiful land. We recommit and restate our stance for our love and appreciation of public access to land, responsible multiple use of land, and respect for proper management of the land."

Jami Bayles, SOS president

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Response to Theodore Roosevelt IV OP-ed in SL Tribune

Don't you just love how do-gooders know all the answers to rural America's problems!? I will respond to just one paragraph as I throw water on Mr. Roosevelt's Parade. Mr. Roosevelt said: "Tourism has been touted as the economic hope for the region. Right now, there are basically no amenities: no hotels, restaurants, signage, visitor centers. Low cost loans and funding need to be secured so that these communities can make necessary business and infrastructure investments and improve their lives accordingly."
#1 The only ones touting tourism as the "hope" for the region are environmental "pack and plays", who are grasping at straws, to convince Utahans that monuments are best for the state and for San Juan County. #2 There are motels, there are restaurants, there is signage, and Visitor Centers in both Blanding and Monticello. There are low cost loans, and funding available. What is missing is a desire to sell out to a philosophy that has ulterior motives.
What Mr. Do-Gooder fails to realize there is ALSO limited WATER in his high desert plateau. There are only so many "showers" for tourists nor is there lots of water for new housing/motel development in this area. Water is a gift from God and from the mountain, and some years we have it, and some years we don't. Thanks to wise stewardship of city councilmen in both Blanding and Monticello the past 80 years, we have used low interest loans to build reservoirs to hedge up against the years when there is not sufficient water, but that those resources do not allow for tens of thousands of new bodies, requiring pampering and cleanliness. This is situation not the result of climate change, but is based on historical evidence from hundreds of years of survival in this arid area.
Tourists who are not used to "roughing it", will likely find Bears Ears NM more wilderness than they bargained for. The real intent of this "green" imposed makeover of San Juan County and other western towns, seems to be destroying the foundations and history of local economies. The trade off for capitulation, is to offer a "mess of pottage" called tourism. This only gives away our sacred land connection and the birthright of thousands of Hispanic, Native, and Anglo residents who call San Juan County home. We only have to look 75 miles to the north and see Mr. Roosevelt's vision of what Tourism does to towns, i.e. Moab's Mob Mecca. We would counter that facts in the following research show that San Juan County is well ahead of Moab in many positive ways that we aren't willing to give up. Hyped up hyperbole and capitation is a lose-lose proposition for San Juan County Utah.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

~~ Bear Essentials ~ June 4, 2017 ~~

“If only a small percentage of the dollars needed to create the Bears Ears Allotment were added to the local budgets for the local offices of the BLM and USFS that would provide adequate  ”boots” on the ground to protect the public lands encompassed within the boundaries of these agencies. . . The monument area is literally a magnificent garden, there is a saying that if you don’t continue to weed your garden then you soon find you have lost your garden. Please leave the area under a multiple use strategy so that the BLM and USFS, Term Grazing Permit holders, and others will still have the tools and management practices to maintain these natural resources. We again ask that you rescind this monument.”   Jimmie and Carol Forrest Monticello
Other Issues Affecting Bears Ears

n  Pay attention to Utah Political Climate.  Who will replace Jason Chaffetz?
n  Biased Surveys Predetermine Outcome   by Devin B. Hancock  Results
. . ."America's energy and economic destiny should be up to the United States, not the United Nations. Today the President took bold and decisive action to pull the U.S. out of the poorly-negotiated Paris Accord that would kill American jobs and manufacturing while doing little to protect the environment.  
"We all agree that clean air and clean water are top priorities, but this deal was an example of another give-away to foreign interests and locks America into a permanent competitive disadvantage. America has the resources and expertise to lead the world in responsible energy development and technology. To not use our resources to our advantage is simply wrong. The world is safer when America is strong.” Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke
Good News Bears
n  Remembering the Blanding Rally  Not sure if I ever linked Marjorie’s recap
n  Great photos in this article: Paddle and Pedal the Bears Ears Monument

Bad News Bears
n  Torrey, Utah asks for State Help on Water but doesn’t support drilling. Great quotes from Mike Noel in this article. 
n  Environmentalist Messaging Concerning BLM Flaring Rule is Mythology
n  10 Planks of American Socialism  Watching it happen in our life time.

Documenting Bears Ears No Monument efforts since July 2016

Monday, May 29, 2017

~~ Bear Essentials ~ May 29, 2017 ~~

A Big Thank You to all who wrote letters as part of the DOI 14-day review.  Your thoughtful, fact-filled responses will hopefully carry more weight than the thousands of form letters from people who have never been to Bears Ears territory.  On June 10 Secretary Zinke is supposed to have recommendations ready for the President regarding National Monuments designated the past 21 years. Pray daily.

“A rich man’s playground should never come at the expense
of a working man’s livelihood” (and dream).  Senator Mike Lee

                            "Promoting tourism as landscape preservation is a complete farce."  Chris Baird 5/18/17

                   View:  A great collection of last year’s Bears Ears videos


Good News Bears
n  Balanced Resources Group urges that Bears Ears be Rescinded  Their FB site contains lots of maps and additional resources.
n  Heated Debate Over National Monuments: A good overview from Shake, Rattle, and Troll showing the impact on the U.S.  Includes this info on Utah specifically.  Great information.
n  San Juan County Commissioners forewarn of unintended consequences caused by monuments  SL Tribune; (subsequent comments belong in the Bad News Bears Section!)  Tribune commentators all need a “Be Nice” T-shirt!
Bad News Bears
n  Suspicious Fire in remote area of Bears Ears Includes graphs related to BLM staffing


Documenting Bears Ears No Monument efforts since July 2016