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Utah Travel Headlines

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Greater Canyonlands Monument Proposal Stirs Debate

The proposal to create a new national monument from areas surrounding Canyonlands National Park has stirred considerable debate, and this article on NationalParksTraveler.com adds to the agitation. The article is obviously slanted in favor of the monument. Many, many comments appended to the article obviously favor one side or the other.

Even though they are not objective, the article and comments are worth reading. They do provide some insights into the issues, and show some of the emotion surrounding the proposal, which is just one battle in the long-standing hot war over management of federal land in southern Utah.

This new monument proposal is noteworthy because it is being promoted by a group of business leaders, in addition to the customary environmental organizations. But many Utah political leaders, and people living in adjacent areas, oppose more federal control over our lands.

Here are just a few excerpts from the article:

...The Outdoor Industry Association and more than 100 recreation-oriented businesses from across the world last fall reached out to President Obama to use his powers under the Antiquities Act to create a 1.4-million-acre Greater Canyonlands National Monument.

Ashely Korenblat, who owns Western Spirit Cycling, a Moab, Utah, bike shop, said that under the proposal no Jeep routes or mountain bike trails would be closed. While the proposal envisions a ban on energy development, it also sees a sprawling national monument that would lure outdoor recreationalists of many stripes to southern Utah.

And some comments:

Designation under the antiquities act is usually a political act, vis a vis Grand Staircase. Recall that when President Clinton designated that NM, the ceremony where designation was celebrated had to be held in Arizona because the locals in Utah were so incensed at the lack of local involvement in his action.

I was in Canyonlands, Arches and Zion most recently over Christmas and New Years, just past. It's fabulous. It's also the home of local Utahans who have a right to be part of the process, not steam rolled by greenies and enviros who think they know better.

Likewise, unless you've lived in Utah and personally experienced some of the practices produced by obedience to Utah's environmental motto (Multiply, multiply and pillage the Earth), you can have little concept of the way things are. It would be very difficult for anyone with even a little knowledge to miss seeing the effects of overgrazing of private lands (and public in some cases) that mark far too much of Utah's beef and sheep industries. Pollution of water sources and riparian areas are also causes for great concern.

Look at the GSENM (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) as an example. Little has changed since designation. Use hasn't substantially increased, the area is still simply a viewshed for most Americans. The Powerplant site was locked up and maybe that's a good thing. Mineral development may have been impeded but maybe not. The area is so rough that development here is likely a difficult and expensive task. The BLM has constructed four (I think) visitor centers for the area so administrative costs have probably increased substantially. I think most visitation to the GSENM is limited to the visitor centers as tourists stop, look at displays and continue down the highway.

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