What a fine mess this monument debacle has turned into, the result of a law that provided no system of checks or balances, but typically used appropriately for decades, until the past 20 years. The result of abuse of that law: a campaign of purposeful disinformation, shady financial “contributions” to Native American tribes and a lack of willingness to compromise one inch. Sadly, this is the state of public land management.
I worked four years as a member of the Grand County Council on Congressman Rob Bishop's Public Land Initiative (PLI). It was messy, nasty and ultimately failed because the conservation side refused to give an inch. Why would they? They had a White House willing to give them what they wanted as soon as they succeeded in getting the PLI jettisoned. And now here we are. We’ve lost our way in this country.
No one understands or is willing to look for compromise. Everyone’s an “expert” because they’ve read two or three stories and visited public lands. Our conservative elected leaders are even willing to give us a new national park in the Escalante region and are willing to legislatively remove the discretion from land management agencies, required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to look for balance and multiple use, by declaring no leasing for 1.2 million acres of land in the former Bears Ears area. I’m certain that won’t be enough. We’ll now spend millions of dollars and a decade in litigation, and the Antiquities Act will be rewritten, all because one side refused any form of compromise and preferred to force their views and opinions on the rest of us. Shame on them. They need to look in the mirror and realize they have only themselves to blame for this debacle.