To those who oppose the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, I would ask, how much time have you spent in the monuments hiking the canyons, exploring the ancient ruins and camping under the dark night skies? If you haven't visited the monuments, maybe you need to before celebrating how they have been dismantled.
Last spring, my neighbor asked why 1.35 million acres were needed for Bears Ears National Monument. I asked if he had ever visited the area and was told no. I then said I’d be wasting my time to explain why a monument designation had such a large area if he hadn't experienced it for himself.
I’d make the same comment to Gov. Gary Herbert, former Gov. Mike Leavitt, our state and federal politicians and others in the Utah community. Try to get over what you see as insults by former U.S. presidents and the acrimony from local county commissioners by personally spending time hiking, camping and experiencing these remarkable and inspiring landscapes.
If you would spend days or weeks at a time as I have — not hours on quick visits — you would understand why so many of us in Utah and across the nation advocate for a larger, more expansive monument status. If you haven’t personally experienced it, you can’t appreciate it.