Left to right, Kathy Whitney, Mike Whitney, Leslie Fowler and Paula Fowler walk down the the path leading to Grosvenor Arch in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
As a science teacher at a local public school, I understand education's funding challenges. The designation of Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument didn't cause them. Actually, after Grand Staircase-Escalante became a monument, the U.S. paid Utah's education system $50 million and traded school trust lands within the monument for energy-rich blocks without. Former Gov. Mike Leavitt, in a recent op-ed, noted $300 million has been generated from land acquired in the trade, and average Utah high schools receive $75,000 annually from the resultant endowment.
Grand Staircase was a boon, not only because of these revenues, but because it is a place for our children to learn and explore — as are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks, Timpanogos Cave, Dinosaur National Monument and other Utah Antiquities Act treasures. On a recent field trip, we met British students who came to Utah because of its unique geology. As residents, we forget that we are blessed with so many natural wonders found nowhere else on Earth, and I am thankful that students can learn from them, not about them in books. Thanks to the Antiquities Act, we have had ability to preserve them in stewardship.
Salt Lake City