Sunday, March 18, 2018

San Juan Hill is Sacred to Many San Juan Residents

                     “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture
is like a tree without roots.”        Marcus Garvey

There have been many fear mongers who have tried to drive a wedge between stake- holders concerning Bears Ears National Monument.  I greatly appreciate that local agencies are giving all county residents this opportunity to respond and hope you will both listen and read carefully and respond accordingly.
Over 35 years ago, I helped to prepare several annual reports for Utah Navajo Development Council (UNDC).  As I worked with that agency, one philosophy that stood out dramatically, was their mantra: “Those most directly affected by decisions, should have a say in those decisions.”  I believe that is a wise and productive philosophy in managing families, businesses, and public lands.
I recognize that public lands should be available to the public, but I do believe that local residents living adjacent to the lands affected, should have a decidedly stronger influence on policies.  We live here; we are impacted regularly, (for some daily) by government decisions.  Ours is not a seasonal visit, or a well-funded campaign that entices tourists to come.  We love and care about San Juan County, every day in multiple ways.
 For this reason, policies that affect livelihood and landscape must protect the rights of citizens in those counties and states.  State sovereignty must be protected, or we become a colony to an overreaching federal government, which early patriots warned about over 240 years ago. Monuments should never be used as a tool by environmental special interests to prohibit traditional activities such as mining, grazing, farming, off-roading, hunting, water storage, or other forms of economic development within the counties.
One of my concerns is that “sacred lands” must be available to those who hold them sacred. This applies to both Native and Anglo people of San Juan County.  As these groups strive to preserve their culture and heritage, they need to have access to those sacred sites. I have helped to collect, write and publish San Juan County history for over 30 years (Blue Mountain Shadows), and I am particularly passionate about passing on the torch of understanding and appreciation of culture and history to the next generation – of both Anglo and Native alike.  We must give the current, and future generations “roots” if the valuable lessons of the past are to continue.

One such “sacred site” is San Juan Hill, the last, an almost insurmountable obstacle to the original Hole in the Rock caravan of 1880. In order to perpetuate and preserve the significance of that pioneering expedition, there is no better teacher than experiencing the difficulty and dedication of those long-suffering pioneers. For that reason, youth groups must be afforded those valuable experiences that cannot be replicated through books.  They must experience hardships, if they are ever to learn they can do hard things.   I urge you to treat all San Juan County cultures with equity and value, and allow them opportunities to learn, understand, and perpetuate their valued history and culture in these national monuments.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Yale Student, Thomas Martin, Asks About Bears Ears

Questions by Thomas Martin  to JKW: Please tell me about you and your family, how long you've lived in the San Juan area, and your former profession as a schoolteacher:

My husband and I are both Idaho transplants.  We moved to San Juan in 1970. We were used to beautiful grain and potato fields and irrigation of crops, so this hot, dry red dirt country was a major adjustment, but we've come to love it.  We had planned to move back to N. Utah or Idaho after a few years, but we fell in love with the people first, and then the landscapes next.  We have raised a large family here, 7 sons and a daughter, all of whom are very into outdoor activities. However, there aren't enough jobs here, and even though they have college degrees, all except one (who is a county sheriff) have moved away.  They love coming back to visit here because there are so any places to go, with a wide variety of inexpensive outdoor experiences. We are concerned that so many people who love this area have to move away to find good paying jobs, though with a small college campus here and the expansion of medical services this is starting to change a bit.I had taught school 3 years in the SLC area before we moved here.  My husband was a social worker.

I went back to teaching once my youngest child started school.  I had kept my teaching certificate current for 11 years, with that in mind.  I began teaching English and Journalism at San Juan High in 1984 and taught for 15 years.  Two specific things I soon discovered I wanted to do as a teacher: 1) build better connections between cultures  and 2) find a way to have students learn more about where they lived and each other.  Two events happened aligned with those impressions: 1) I received training in Student Team Learning, and used it every year there after. Approximately 50% of our student body is Native American, and by using team teaching (and switching out teams every quarter) they had a chance to know each other better, and learn from each other.  2) About the same time I learned about the National History Fair, and since my minor was in history I was able to create an English unit where they learned research skills while researching local topics of interest.  I also required that they do an oral interview with an "expert" in that field.  They did some of the most amazing projects and papers, and the interviews were turned into the historical commission and just recently their cassette tapes are being digitized.  They have saved a valuable "slice of History."    I had over 8 groups of of students, a mix of Native and Anglo qualify for the National History Fair during those years, and travel back east to compete.  A high point in my teaching.

My other passion during the 80's and 90's was to start a regional historical magazine called Blue Mountain Shadows.  I was managing editor for 20 years, retiring in 2007, but it is still going and they are up to issue #56 now.  A more recent once was actually themed on Bears Ears.   My high school students, helped to get this started, and transcribed tapes, and some of them write articles for the first one.  I even had to have them collate the first issue by had, as our funding was so sparse...anyway that is enough about me.  Just know I have a passion for preservation of history and culture. 

2. How are you affected by a National Monument? : As far as Bears Ears directly, our family has only been as recreationists.  We continue to have annual three-day camping family reunions at different places in the county, usually somewhere in the Bears Ears territory, as it is a central gathering place for us. We all love to hike, and some of the boys are hunters.  In the early years when we were on a limited budget, we hauled wood every fall, just like the Native people do today, and would haul one or two pickup loads down from the mountain, chop it up, and stack it for use throughout the cold months.  That is still the case for many people in our town, as well as many of our Native American friends in White Mesa, McCracken Mesa and Aneth areas who don't have electricity into their homes. 

During my teaching years many of my students did research projects on deer hunting, mining, trapping, farming, ranching, water development, and other topics they were interested in. One of my students had a great grandfather who purchased 360 acres of homestead land out by Bears Ears which is still farmed today.  When I was teaching in those days, there was a more harmonious relationship between the Forest Service, and BLM than there is now.  However, it is important to know that for those who farm and for those with grazing allotments, (I believe there are 76 of those), roads are very important for getting in and out to areas being used. You have to supervise cattle, just like teenagers! That is why SJC residents are concerned about road closures. We need every job possible to prosper.

All of my boys were Boy Scouts and there is a big scout camp up on Blue Mountain.  However, with the first downsizing from 1.9 to 1.3 M Acres, they bumped that area out of the National Monument.  However, scouts troops hike and use other parts of the current areas.  I have many friends who are passionate about being able to use ATV's on the existing trails and roads on the mountain.  They see the Monument as a threat to that recreation.  As most of them are Sr. Citizens as I am, I support them and their concerns about trail closures, or prohibiting ATVs in the Bears Ears Monument.

3. Compromise:  You have to go into negotiations knowing that neither side will get what they want.  However, having Bears Ears NM reduced by about 80% is seen by some as a victory.  But when you consider the Obama declaration was a proclamation that never should have been made, then it's still a loss. It was an over-reach of the Antiquities Act. Secondly, the fact that it appears that multiple use outside the NM area, such as future mineral mining is still not allowed, puts a damper on possible use, and on our enthusiasm for the new designation, and that is a loss as well.  There are still mining claims in those areas, and the leases have to be paid every year, whether you mine them or not.  I have friends who are concerned about that. I don't know how many acres of grazing rights are within the two smaller areas, but I'm sure ranchers still see that as a major concern. 
As far as the pro-monument side, it appears from their over-reaction, that the end of the world must be right around the corner! as they are forecasting oil drilling (which won't happen) bulldozers pushing trees down, and the failure of honoring Native rights. They keep forgetting that our county has many Native Americans who wanted the Monument rescinded.  So their 5 tribe coalition does not speak for all Native Americans, especially when most of those "sovereign" tribes lie outside of Utah. They keep playing the "sovereign Nation" card, insinuating that because of that, they should have more say, than Native people who actually live in this state.   To us it is comparable to a sovereign nation like Canada, or Mexico coming in and saying we want to take over your state and boss you around. 
   The smaller NM designation will still involve Native Americans as part of the advisory council, along with other county reps. So that should be a win for them, and I have no problem with that. 

4) There are many fears:  Stewards of San Juan studied carefully what had happened in surrounding National Monuments, especially Natural Bridges NM, which is adjacent to Bears Ears.  That is not just speculation, we studied Canyon de Chelly, Grand Canyon, Canyon of the Ancients, Bridges, Arches, etc. All monuments imposed additional restrictions: It says right on the Natural Bridges sign: No wood gathering, or plant gathering. Hunting would also eventually be banned, roads closed, ATV's banned and fees charged.  At Grand Canyon, they have finally moved off the very last Navajo family, even though they initially said they wouldn't. Of course, we don't have anyone living in Bears Ears, BUT it illustrates that promises don't mean much when it comes to government bureaus.  Those are just some of the NEW layers a monument will eventually bring.

However, we are slowly building back a little trust, with the appointment of Ryan Zinke as DOI sec.    However, I think the most fearful thing is unbridled, uninformed tourists, who just want to see what all the hubbub is about. We do NOT want to be another Moab!  We DO want to be able to have multiple use of the land, and be able to support families with good jobs, not tourist trap employment. 

  Political cartoon by Jim Stiles
The other fear that we all should be cognizant of is, why are we foolishly trusting a government that is 20 Trillion $ in debt, and still not managing their money?  I don't know if Trump can make America Great Again but lots of taxpayers are hoping so.   Existing parks are running on a deferred maintenance budget. I believe Utah's deficit is over 2 Billion alone.  (I've got it posted on my blog, but my computer keeps shutting me down, so I didn't look it up).   That means the United States Government CAN'T AFFORD TO MANAGE ANYTHING MORE -- No more parks, monuments, social programs etc!  They can't even maintain the parks nor the monuments they have!  It makes no sense at all, UNLESS you look at the $ behind the pro-monument campaigns, and then you can see why it's happening....but that's another issue.  I've written several articles on that, as has Jim Stiles of Canyon Zephyr.
5)  Ideal management would consist of an advisory board, which is more than token appointments.  Advisers need to be listened to by the Forest service, BLM and DOI.  The council should consist of an even balance of Native Americans and Anglos with Hispanics also represented as that is the make up of our county. Maybe 6-10 altogether.   In addition, there should be elected representatives from the county commission and 1 from each of the 4 communities on the board.  I don't think the suggestions in the Curtis Bill, or Proclamation are detailed enough, that I can speak for what they have in mind.

6) Concerns: I have been very concerned about the exorbitant amount of money that pro-monument groups have spent to fight against our grass roots group of non-funded citizens.  If it weren't for the help our state elected congressmen have given, out of state enviro-extremists would have trampled all over us, and buried our rural values by the time Sec. Jewels "hearing" was concluded in 2016.  Those intrusive power-play tactics have no place in decision making that affects so directly the livelihood and intrinsic values of individual states in rural America.  That is why each STATE must be treated equally.  Because we have been burdened with public lands, instead of private lands, we are discounted as citizens, and our State is attacked because we do not conform with East and West coast values.  Those most directly affected by decisions much be part of the decision making process, not out of state do-gooders who are trying to micromanage rural states. Many other western states also face this same injustice. This is not just a Utah issue.    

Sorry this has taken so long...I think I'm having a major computer melt down, time for a new one.  Bears Ears wore this one out!!   You can call me, should you want to clarify anything else.  435-678-2851   Good luck with your article.  Hopefully, you're a true journalist and approach the issue with objectivity.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Delineating the Antiquities Act

By Alan J. Peterson First published 5/25/17
Helper, Utah

Monument Review MS-1530
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC  202240

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the abusive use of the Antiquities Act over the past 20 years.  Wow, where to begin?   Perhaps we should start with a better understanding of the reason for the Antiquities Act and when it was enacted:
The Antiquities Act of 1906, (Pub.L. 59–209, 34 Stat. 225, 54 U.S.C. § 320301–320303), is an act passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906. This law gives the President of the United States the authority to, by presidential proclamation, create national monuments from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features. The Act has been used over a hundred times since its passage. Its use occasionally creates significant controversy.
History of Antiquities Act of 1906:
The Antiquities Act resulted from concerns about protecting mostly prehistoric Native American ruins and artifacts – collectively termed "antiquities" – on federal lands in the West, such as at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Removal of artifacts from these lands by private collectors – "pot hunters," in the language of the time – had become a serious problem by the end of the 19th century. In 1902, Iowa Congressman John F. Lacey, who chaired the House Committee on the Public Lands, traveled to the Southwest with the rising anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett, to see for himself the extent of the pot hunters' impact. His findings, supported by an exhaustive report by Hewett to Congress detailing the archaeological resources of the region, provided the necessary impetus for the passage of the legislation.[1]
Let’s think about how different our environmental laws are now in 2017, compared to 1906.  There are now many, many environmental laws in place that did not exist in 1906. Perhaps the most far reaching is FLPMA of 1976.  The list below is just an example of “laws on the books” which render The Antiquities Act to be obsolete:
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act, or FLPMA (Pub.L. 94–579), is a United States federal law that governs the way in which the public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management are managed. The law was enacted in 1976 by the 94th Congress and is found in the United States Code under Title 43. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act phased out homesteading in the United States by repealing the pre-existing Homestead Acts.
Congress recognized the value of the public lands, declaring that these lands would remain in public ownership. The National Forest Service, National Park Service, and now, the Bureau of Land Management, are commissioned in FLPMA to allow a variety of uses on their land (of greater concern for the BLM, who is the least restrictive in terms of uses) while simultaneously trying to preserve the natural resources in them. This concept is best summarized by the term 'multiple-use.' 'Multiple use' is defined in the Act as "management of the public lands and their various resource values so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people." FLPMA addresses topics such as land use planning, land acquisition, fees and payments, administration of federal land, range management, and right-of-ways on federal land. FLPMA has specific objectives and time frames in which to accomplish these objectives, giving it more authority and eliminating the uncertainty surrounding the BLM’s role in wilderness designation and management.
Parts of FLPMA relating specifically to Wilderness are found under the heading Designated Management. Here, the BLM is also given power to designate Wilderness and are given 15 years to do so. The BLM is to conduct studies, classifying areas as 'Wilderness Study Areas.' These areas are not official Wilderness areas but are, for all intents and purposes, treated as such until formal adoption as Wilderness by Congress. Approximately 8.8 million acres of BLM wilderness are currently included in the National Wilderness Preservation System as a result of the wilderness reviews mandated by FLPMA. Those ordered to implement policies from FLPMA are trained government employees using guidelines expressly stated within the act itself.
Further legislation following FLPMA has continued to address these concerns as the needs of the American people have expanded to include natural resources such as oil shale and tar sands in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

For addition details of Laws and Regulations related to the Antiquities Act: Follow link:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

~~ Bear Essentials ~January 17, 2018 ~~

If NOT, then we need to speak up now.

v Email John Curtis
“This bill also has a mineral withdrawal for the original 1.35-million-acre designation under President Obama. This bill is about protecting areas, not opening mining, or oil and gas, development.”

n  BLM Requesting Input from SJC  San Juan Record
n  How to Refocus the Antiquities Act  Washington Examiner
n  Congress Criticizes BLM Actions: Bundy & Steinle Cases
On January 10, Rob Bishop and Bruce Westerman of the House Natural Resources Committee wrote a letter to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Brian Steed, citing flagrant ethical and legal violations by agents involved in a number of high profile and deadly incidents.”

” The first paragraph of the bill, the first action, is to withdraw all of the original 1.35 million acres of land designated under the Obama Bears Monument from any future mineral extraction. This was done for one purpose and one purpose only, to appease the environmentalists.”

Drought Conditions in San Juan; please continue to pray for snow!
           Other Articles/ Events of Local Interest

                     Documenting Bears Ears “No Monument” efforts since July 2016