Jay Evensen: Antiquities Act should be rethought

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  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    June 2, 2014 8:08 a.m.

    I doubt that Gary O has ever been to the Grande Staircase Escalante National monument. I know that I've driven the Burr Trail once or twice and while the scenery is spectacular, it was spectacular before the designation of the monument and will be spectacular if someone ever grows a pair and does away with it and lets Congress put something in there that actually fits the bill. Otherwise, a whole lot of nothing is protected and inaccessable to most. Oh and by the way, it would still spectacular even then.

    I agree with Rocket Science. Moab is over-run with people that could care less about the area. IF they did care, they would do away with bike trips, jeep safaries, and helicopter rides over the area. Talk about urban sprawl out in the boonies. It makes me ill.

  • deserthound Salt Lake City, UT
    May 29, 2014 12:45 p.m.

    The Antiquities Act: Protecting Utah from Utahns since 1906.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 29, 2014 10:02 a.m.

    It's true that Virginia has contains much less Federal Land than Utah, but so what?

    Shenandoah National Park doesn't belong to Virginians any more than it belongs to any other Americans. It's federal land . . . We the people of the United States own it.

    And the Federal Land in Utah is NOT your land any more than it's my land . . . because we the people own that too.

    The locals are "good stewards?!" No we the people via the US government are good stewards of that land. The locals, on the other hand, are well-known for robbing ancient graves and otherwise defiling the federal land in Southern Utah.

    No matter how great your grandparents were, you don't have any special right to the Federal Land in Utah.

    Get used to it.

    BTW, the many tourists who come to visit Utah’s federal land every year would probably be very interested in knowing about the hatred and disdain “Conservative” Utahns feel for out-of-staters. How many millions of dollars do you suppose might leave Utah, if you wise “Conservatives” chase the tourists away?

  • regis Salt Lake City, UT
    May 29, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    Well-written article. Thank you, Mr. Evensen.

  • djc Stansbury Park, Ut
    May 29, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    Interesting how the land that the United States obtained in a treaty with Mexico and retained title to in the Utah statehood petition is now Utah's land. It never was Utah's land. That in and of itself is a good argument for the ability of the federal government to protect land from overreaching developers in Utah and elsewhere. The Eastern states so often smugly pointed to here existed before the United States. That is the principle reason that there are great swaths of federal land in the West and not the East. The Western states are on land either purchased by the United States or won through treaties as the result of United States actions. The lands in the East were states first and then became part of the United States. The difference is obvious and clear, but it doesn't fit the meme that Utah is "entitled" to the lands owned by the United States.

  • BJ61 South Jordan, UT
    May 28, 2014 11:50 p.m.

    "The state of Utah is not a bad stewart of the land. The land due the state at statehood should be given back."

    This statement, which TeaPartiers constantly make, has no basis in reality. The Utah Constitution, which was enacted to allow Utah statehood, clearly states that Utah relinquishes any and all claims to federal land holdings in the state. See Article 3, Section 2. There is no federal land due the state.

    Second, the state of Utah is a poor steward of the land and small Utah communities have shown a propensity to support abusive mining, timber cutting, and oil drilling practices and even condone illegal activities on federal lands. Examples of such abuses include the uranium tailings site by Moab, theft of antiquities by residents of Blanding, extensive damage caused by ATVs in the Caineville/Factory Butte area, and the mega-network of oil fields that have significantly damaged air quality in the Uinta Basin.

  • Benny Hill SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:08 p.m.

    I have lived in Utah most of my life. If the "West" is home to all Americans, then the American "East" ought to be, too. President Obama should create multiple large monument areas in the Appalachian Mountains, who cares who owns them! After all, the East is an American heritage, too. I have always wanted to hike the beautiful forests of the East unhindered by ungodly humans (much more lush than the mountains in Utah!). Also, since our society is SOOO infatuated with the 14th Amendment lately, applying it to anything and everything, if the Federal government owns 66.7% of Virginia, North Caroline, South Carolina, and Vermont (and all other States east of the Mississippi), then we, all the citizens, will truly be equal. How will Virginia do with only a third of their current tax base? Yep, I am sure they will struggle to effectively educate their children (just as we do in Utah) and juggle having poorer roads. It is time for the Federal government to give the land to State of Utah, just as was done in the Eastern States. Otherwise, we are still a territory and not equal.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    May 28, 2014 8:30 p.m.

    Congress can already undo any monument they wish. An act of Congress is all it takes. If it's veto proof, that's the end of it.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    May 28, 2014 7:16 p.m.

    Is this a rant about freedom to access to BLM by;

    ATViers in Southern Utah,
    a cattleman who feels he "owns" public lands,
    or someone stealing dinosaur footprints outside of Moab?

  • Rocket Science Brigham City, UT
    May 28, 2014 5:33 p.m.

    GaryO you have demonstrated so well, the arrogance of those who live in states that control their own land, not beholden to the rest of the populace, claiming ownership to vast amounts of land in other states reserved for their personal playground.

    My Grand Father, Great Grand Father and Great Great Grand Father were among the first settlers of southeastern Utah. For many years Moab survived with little impact from cattle, movies and even mining. What has changed Moab irreparably is the masses of people who believe it to be their playground. Many are Easterners who have come in to promote the playground enriching themselves encouraging all the people they can to squeeze into that little valley to eat, drink and play unmolested by a cowpie, then leave the mess for the locals.

    Id rather see a cowpie along the LaSal Mt. trails than human feces, TP and tire marks on and around slick rock water pockets. The local yokels you belittle have proven good stewards of the land for generations and want to continue to do so. Your arrogance calls them names as if they have no interset in the land they have cared for generations.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    May 28, 2014 4:57 p.m.

    Protecting public lands is like putting money in the bank for future generations.

    Give our grandchildren the opportunity to decide if those lands should be sold to the highest bidders!

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    May 28, 2014 2:49 p.m.

    @photobeauty, Blanding, UT

    Yes we've seen the good stewards, Blanding residents are and have been, no thank you.

    There is school trust land set aside for eduction, half of which has already been sold, since it was set aside, so we know what are developer representatives have in mind when they say "return the land" that we may profit one time, and enrich ourselves or relatives.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 28, 2014 2:32 p.m.

    " . . . humans who live in the American West — don’t like others making decisions about them without asking their opinion . . . "

    Humans living in the American West can whine all they want, but that doesn't negate the fact that we the people of the United States own that Federal Land . . . And not just some local yokels out west.

    Get used to it.

    Thank goodness for the our far-sighted Progressive Presidents like TR, FDR, Clinton, and Obama, who care enough about the nation to keep exploiters from defiling our lands.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 28, 2014 2:30 p.m.

    IMO... even if what Bill Clinton did was good... the WAY he did it was VERY wrong.

    What Bill Clinton did (during an election and obviously intended to influence the election)... was political.... that's NOT what the Antiquities Act is for.


    Google "Bill Clinton Grand Staircase" (wikipedia) go to "Controversy" section...

    "The Monument was declared in September 1996 at the height of the 1996 presidential election campaign by President Bill Clinton, and was controversial from the moment of creation. The declaration ceremony was held at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and not in the state of Utah. The Utah congressional delegation and state governor were notified only 24 hours in advance"...

    That's abuse of the Antiquities Act.

    #1. Obviously political

    #2. Why keep it a secret from the Governor of Utah, and Utahs Congressional Delegation till the day of the announcement? They should have been consulted...

    #3. Why announce it in Arizona (instead of Utah) when 100% of the land is in Utah?

    Hint... Clinton won Arizona by a margin of 2.2% just a few weeks later.

    Monument designation... ZERO dollars.
    Re-election... priceless...

  • photobeauty Blanding, UT
    May 28, 2014 2:29 p.m.

    For all of those who moan about the per student expenditure for Utah schools, just think what increased use of our natural resouces would do to greatly improve the amount of money that can be used for public education. The state of Utah is not a bad stewart of the land. The land due the state at statehood should be given back.

    May 28, 2014 1:04 p.m.


    What you call a "threat from the President," I would call a commitment.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    While Jay's proposals are good in principle they are not practical. We live in a very partisan time and Congress refuses to act upon wilderness or monument proposals in a timely matter. The recent protection in New Mexico had been stalled in Congress for 10 years and had the approval of the local people.
    Public attitude on the Grand Staircase has swung to a wide approval from Utahns and Americans. Time has shown that Bill Clinton did a marvelous act and it's encouraging to see BO take a similar approach to set aside places and protect them for future generations.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:53 p.m.

    Re: "More land needs to be set aside and protected from development"...

    The Antiquities Act is not used to protect land from development. It's used to create National Monuments.

    Google it and read the history...

    "The 1906 act stated that it was intended for: "... the protection of objects of historic and scientific interest." These areas are given the title of "National Monuments." It also allows the President to reserve or accept private lands for that purpose. The aim is to protect all historic and prehistoric sites on United States federal lands and to prohibit excavation or destruction of these antiquities. With this act, this can be done much more quickly than going through the Congressional process of creating a National Park"...

    So.... we need to understand that the Antiquities Act is NOT be used to create "National Parks" (that takes an act of Congress). It is NOT used to establish "Wilderness". It's NOT used to stop developers It IS used to protect antiquities, by creating "National Monuments" (which may later become National Parks IF Congress decides to do that).

    Protecting land from development can be done with Zoning, etc... doesn't require the Antiquities Act.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:37 p.m.

    Can we imagine an American West the same way if we didn't have the Antiquities Act? It would not nearly be so special. Imagine a Jackson Hole that looked much like the Uinta Basin.

    The bottom line is that public lands belong to all of Americans, not just Americans living in Utah or Wyoming. And thank God it does. Western states are, unfortunately, turning out to be some of the worst stewards of the landscape we could possibly imagine. This is a situation in which the Federal Government has really been the true savior of our western way of life. Otherwise, Utah would be littered with oil wells, ATVs, open pit mines, dirt roads and air pollution.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:29 p.m.

    More land needs to be set aside and protected from development. The more the better.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    our national parks are a tressure and should always be protected and the same for national monuments. I personally don't see the need for new national monuments however. Wilderness lands are a different thing altogether and I am personally angry that our most prestine wilderness lands in Utah aren't better protected. As an example, the High Uinta's have large sections designated as wilderness such as the Henry Fork basin next to Kings Peak. These areas should be protected AGAINST grazing sheep for example but they aren't. Go to Kings Peak and you are overrun with smelly - destructive sheep. In this case I am actually in favor of MORE protection of the enviornment ...not less. Some areas are so fragile that they need extra protection and grazing is one of the most harmful things you can do to an area.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 28, 2014 11:08 a.m.

    The antiquities act is based on a good concept, but it's too open to abuse. And it has been abused in the past. They just want to put some Congressional oversight on it (which is a good thing).

    We have Congressional oversight on other things... for a good reason. So one man (or one party) can't just do whatever they want and nobody (especially the locals affected most by the edict) can stop them.

    IF it's a real good idea... the oversight will approve it. So what are you afraid of?

    If you want to get things passed by an individual edict (only have to convince one person).... then I can see why you would oppose any changes to the Antiquities Act.

    I think the proposed changes are an improvement... they just want Congress to have some oversight (that's part of their job in a division-of-power type Government, with checks and balances, instead of a King who can do anything he wants).

    I don't think we would need this if it would never be abused... but obviously it can and has been abused.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 28, 2014 11:01 a.m.

    I agree with Jay. The duties and limits on the President are clearly defined. Nowhere has the Constitution given the President the authority to encroach on State lands, except to provide for "Forts", "Magazines", and "Federal Buildings". The land in Utah is not "public land" that is owned by the citizens of the United States. It is either private land, which is secured by a deed, or it is State land, unless we throw out the Constitution that protects the States from Federal "ownership" of land within a State.

    People who refuse to read the Constitution have set themselves up for Federal "ownership" of State land. We are a Federation of States. The role of the Federal Government is to have the authority to require all States within that Federation to aid any State that is under attack. That, basically, is the role of the Federal Government. The States, the Counties within those States and the Cities within those Counties, handle all other duties.