A Bears Ears primer: How Obama's pen could affect southern Utah

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  • elgreco grand junction, CO
    Dec. 23, 2016 12:23 p.m.

    Mr. Whitney needs to remember that "democracy" means the will of all the people in the United States, not just those in southern Utah. These are "public" lands, and sacred at that.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    Dec. 21, 2016 5:54 p.m.

    I have tired of listening to the whining of Southern Utahns over the last four decades.

    How many communities in this country have natural attractions with large numbers of tourists to bolster their economies? Certainly not most towns in this country. The people of southern Utah claim they despise the federal government, but show me one region that relies more on government subsidies (highways, range for their cattle, land management dollars) and property owned by the United States than southern Utah does. Want to see socialism or the redistribution of wealth in action? Take a look at southern Utah, where their greatest desire is to strip the natural treasures owned by the American people, and where ancient cultures and America's heritage must take a back seat to a very few southern Utahns' profiteering from land and resources they don't even own.

    A designation brings legitimate outside dollars to local small businesses and communities. The political leaders in southern Utah need to grow up and stop pretending that they alone have an interest in our federal lands.

  • Bluto Sandy, UT
    Dec. 21, 2016 10:06 a.m.

    Before Bill Clinton abused the 1907 antiquities act, the largest swath of land set aside by a President was abt. 7k acres.

    Clinton took 1.9 million acres and Obama is about to do the same.

    George Bush should have undone what Bubba did, cowardly, on the edge of the Grand Canyon with Bobby Redford and Norma Matheson by his side.

    There is a very simple solution.....

    What one President can declare by edict...another can undue by edict.

    Let's hope Trump reverses this nonsense.

  • Lilly Munster , 00
    Dec. 21, 2016 9:42 a.m.

    Leave the decision to "States Rights?" How did that work for slavery? How did that work for voting rights for women and minorities? How did that work for the people of Flint? How did that work for the citizens of New Mexico and Arizona when their Republican Governors allowed CHINA to buy up a large portion of OUR mineral fields? China, and their paid Republican friends will not protect our public treasures. Not if private profits are involved.

  • Michael Shea, MD Yuma, AZ
    Dec. 20, 2016 5:26 p.m.

    Thanks very much for this educational article. All the invective and contentiousness between opposing sides tends to obscure the issues. By whatever mechanism, I do hope a large part of that pristine territory can be preserved for future generations. I have little patience for those who believe their short-term financial interests should take precedence over preservation of irreplaceable natural resources.

  • endoftimes Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 20, 2016 4:32 p.m.

    Cant we all just get along?

    We all know what unspeakable industry everyone fears coming to the area - OIL
    Truth is, if oil and gas leases were sold, the area would soon be riddled with oil/gas well pads. 8 wells per acre. We all need to drive and heat homes, but I would rather see low visibility o/g locations than the monstrous wind mills that are millions of times uglier and legally kill thousands of eagles per year.

    Is there even any black gold under them thar hills? I'll go check with my '65 volkswagon hippie van.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 20, 2016 11:35 a.m.

    @Ute alumni "Barry knows best. Just ask him."

    Always the snide remarks from you. You're probably a "birther" too, right?

  • jackjoh RIVERTON, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 9:35 p.m.

    Why do we have to have a monument? Because the government has not supplied the money and and personnel to properly manage the area. In fact most of the federal parks in the country are underfunded and miss managed.
    So why give it to the same federal government that screwed it up?
    When Bishop came to the Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association and presented his plan we felt it was not perfect but it had more merits than a monument.
    A southern Navajo friend of mine (married to a northern Ute) said: "The best thing to do is to leave it like it is but curtail the vandalism".
    I agree, if we are going to have federally managed land within a State it needs to be managed to the best interest of the State and remain Public Land that remains Public.

  • Holladay Mom Holladay, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 8:15 p.m.

    Utahs politicians and citizens are working hard to do what is best for the preservation of Bears Ears and the citizens of Utah. Utahns are not stupid or negligent! We can manage and protect our land!

    Our state sovereignty is threatened by federal lands. The federal government owns 28% of land in the U.S. and 64% of the land in Utah (the second largest amount of federally owned land). As Utahns we pay a huge price for this loss of sovereignty and the article should have done it's homework and explained this to readers.

    Obama has NO RIGHT to force himself upon our state and mandate anything. It's a flat-out abuse of power.

  • rmwarnick Draper, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 3:41 p.m.

    It's too bad that Utah politicians are unwilling to write a straight-up wilderness designation bill anymore. The PLI turned out to be mostly an attempted corporate land grab. President Obama has been very patient, but the time has come to issue a Bears Ears monument proclamation and let the chips fall where they may. It's the right thing to do, and 80 percent of Utahns support the monument.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 3:11 p.m.

    @lost: yes of course Lee & Cruz shut down the government when President Obama refused to change the Affordable Care Act. Claiming otherwise is simply revisionist history.
    Then, after costing tax payers billions of dollars, they flinched and opened it back up again.
    Thank goodness we had a good and decent person as President these last 8 years. We can only hope he does the right thing one more time and name Bears Ears a National Monument to protect the area for the enjoyment of every American, the owners of the land.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Dec. 19, 2016 2:39 p.m.

    For eighty years, a few thousand people lived a relatively quiet existence in Beaver Falls, PA. One highway went through the town and enough visitors passed through to keep three motels and a few restaurants in business. Then, in the forties, the Pennsylvania Turnpike route was laid out, missing Beaver Falls by two miles. The people were aghast. They protested that this would mean the end of the tourists and the bankruptcy of the town.

    The highway went in anyway.

    Ten years later, there were over a dozen motels in town, and more in the planning. It seemed that the new road brought a flood of cross-state visitors, and Beaver Falls was a good stopping point for those who had left the east coast that morning. They bought food and gas, they spent the night, and they paid sales taxes.

    And so it will be for the Bears Ears National Monument. Do you notice that none of the would-be coal or oil interests have pointed out how many tourism jobs have been created in Utah since Arches and Canyonlands have been parks? Or how many people now visit Escalante, as compared to 1996? Why do you suppose that is?

  • Chancey Sandy, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 2:36 p.m.

    Between what is held by the BLM, National Parks, National Recreation Areas, what's a couple of million more acres for the Federal Government? Do we really even have a State?

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 1:24 p.m.

    I am a native of Utah and had never even heard of this area until the environmentalists went to work to tie up more Utah lands.

    As for those who want to claim that lands in Utah belong to "all America", then maybe Miami Florida should belong to all America, too. Actually, the founding fathers of America were against ANY lands being "owned" by ANY government. Just as it was important not to have a national religion, it was also important that the government not exercise control over the people by way of land control. While it is nice to have "public" lands, it should be done by the will of the people, not some glory seeking politician, and certainly not for the will of special interest groups above the the interests of the rest of the citizens.

    I firmly oppose any designation by Obama, and feel the Antiquities Act should be done away with, due to the abusive use it provides.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Dec. 19, 2016 12:49 p.m.

    @lost in DC wrote,

    "Lee and Cruz shut down the govt? nope, sorry, two senators from the minority party do not shut down the government. "

    Wow. So Lee was lying when he and Cruz were cheering about having shut down the government?

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 12:42 p.m.

    @lost in DC
    I never brought up looting as reason for Monument designation. Just that I've seen it's destruction personally. Republicans continue to defund our National Parks and Monuments so it's up to the people to stop it because our politicians won't. The locals certainly have not and many of them have been rightfully convicted of their crimes.

    Grand Staircase is still the same size it is since Clinton designated it years ago. Opponents of it discovered they had very few legal avenues to overturn it and now hundreds of thousands visit a land they never would have probably seen without the designation.
    San Juan is the poorest county without a Monument and considering there are thousands of unused oil and gas leases already on BLM lands what would a Monument designation do to make it poorer? As Trump told the Blacks during the campaign, what do you have to lose. This is a great opportunity for real change for residents of San Juan.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 11:54 a.m.

    Lee and Cruz shut down the govt? nope, sorry, two senators from the minority party do not shut down the government. The house passed legislation keeping the govt open, harry would not allow a senate vote and BO promised a veto. BO and harry shut down the government.

    I believe Herbert much more than BO or jewel or any dem. Are you saying Herbert lied?

    If designation will not stop the looting, why did you bring up looting as argument in favor?

    Trump cannot undo it. let’s let him try and see how it turns out. The size of the proposed monument is contrary to the law.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 11:22 a.m.

    I just finished reading all of the comments for this article. I've never been to Bears Ear, but I have dealt with the Dixie escalante monument. If I remember the Antiquites Act correctly, I believe that the law state the 'minimum' amount of land need to preserve a specific feature. I seriously think that land area the size of Delaware and larger than Rhode Island, is excessive and illegal. If Pres Obama does do this at the size requested, I think it will be a gross abuse of that 'Pen' and also a slap in the face of the intent of the law.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 10:58 a.m.

    A few thoughts:
    I've never seen any sort of lock on any National Monuments, except when Lee & Cruz shut down the government.
    Precisely what jobs will be lost if Bears Ears becomes a Monument?
    San Juan County is the poorest county in Utah. Whatever drives their economy doesn't seem to work well or pay well. Considering that literally every monument ever created has brought more money to the area, why would anyone claim the by naming Bears Ears a Monument would be economically damaging?
    What is the best and most valid argument against naming the area a Monument?

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 10:04 a.m.

    I find it interesting that most of the stuff passed by Congress has a sunset date. The much abused Antiquities Act doesn't. Maybe it's time for Congress to sunset this act and then do their jobs.

    The fault doesn't lie with Bishop. He's made the attempt and the House turned him down for now. But his bill is still viable.

    No designation at this time. Obama should leave it alone.

    Dec. 19, 2016 9:35 a.m.

    I support the monument. Too bad that Bishop couldn't negotiate in good faith, though: unilateral presidential action isn't likely to result in the best designation.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 9:29 a.m.

    @lost in Dc. Utah wouldn't keep the land because there is absolutely zero money in that. Local entites can not collect property taxes whether the state or federal government owns it and the taxes Utah does charge for mineral extraction is woefully inadequate anyways.

    I am however in favor on Utah taking title to the land but under only one condition. First the state would have to decide what land was worthy of state park status or protection. The remaining land would be divided up equally among the citizens of Utah for free. The land would be appropriated through a lottery type system and there would be zero property taxes for three years.

    Anything less by the state is just a giveaway to special interest.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 9:14 a.m.

    @lost in DC
    "You’ve seen areas looted. Guess who was responsible for oversight? That’s right, the BLM, a FEDERAL agency. Maybe if the state had control, they’d provide better oversight."

    Looting won't stop with a Monument designation. Nobody ever said it would. Pretty hard to stop looting when you have one ranger for an area the size of Rhode Island. It looks like the area the President will designate is the same size the locals agreed should have been protected with a conservation zone designation. The designation of a Monument does not stipulate how it will be managed, that will probably be left up to a group of locals, Indians and environmental groups. But it will leave the oil and gas industry out of the room and that's the part that rubs Bishop the wrong way. That's because they contribute the majority of his funding for his re-election campaigns. Once again, shame on Rob Bishop. It's America's land, not Utah's or the oil and gas industries. You ignored that and your disingenuious efforts to solve the issue compounded the frustrations of the locals.

  • TJ Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 9:13 a.m.

    Let the residents in this region vote.
    Any president who takes this upon himself is abusing his power.
    Trump should reverse it if it happens. He should threaten the Escalante joke, to reverse it, if Obama follows through.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 9:09 a.m.

    I am agnostic about the issue of making this area a national monument, but I don't understand how that designation will stop vandalism. Those who flaunt the existing state laws will probably do the same to federal laws.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 9:08 a.m.

    @Lost DiC;

    "That’s OK, trump will just come in and reverse it.

    I guess you missed where Herbert said the state was not going to sell the land, just that the state would have management of it."

    I guess you missed where the next President cannot undo a National Monument from the previous President.
    I further guess that you miss where Herbert doesn't have the say so or control that you think he does. Hughes, Niederhauser and James Evans make policy and Herbert just says yes.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 8:57 a.m.

    @my screen name

    They do. It's called PILT, payments in lieu of taxes, and it was specifically created to help offset the burden of not being able to collect property tax on all the federally owned land.

    I respect both sides of the issue and people who may have opinions going both ways, but what I can't tolerate is people who have strong vocal opinions but have done no research into the issues and history of federally owned land in the west. Far too many people have a knee jerk reaction; Federal government = bad, so therefore I am against federally owned land. They have no knowledge of how the land came to be owned by federal government, that the states actually had the opportunity to own the land but didn't want it, why the BLM was created, etc....

    That said I am against the Bears Ears, even though I am one of those healthy fit backpacking hippy types (I didn't realize being healthy and active made you a hippy, but if that's the case I embrace the title.) I feel like the area is just too large, I would support a monument maybe a quarter that size.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 8:43 a.m.

    That’s OK, trump will just come in and reverse it.

    I guess you missed where Herbert said the state was not going to sell the land, just that the state would have management of it.

    And what is wrong with having the land generate some income? You complained the other day about your taxes being raised because some money was moved from education to fill a gap in a pension obligation. And yet you are always calling for more education spending. Let’s see, you want more spent, but you don’t want to pay more. Where is that money to come from? Why not allow lands within our state borders generate that land, provide more for education, and reduce the burden on taxpayers? Sounds like a win-win to me.

    You’ve seen areas looted. Guess who was responsible for oversight? That’s right, the BLM, a FEDERAL agency. Maybe if the state had control, they’d provide better oversight.

    How about the feds lock up another 4 million acres in Idaho and leave this alone.

  • Utah_Happyman Orem, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 8:36 a.m.

    BENM...please protect this land from the greedy politicians of Utah, this land belongs to all US citizens not just San Juan County. Please protect for our future generations.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    Dec. 19, 2016 8:23 a.m.

    Sign the document now. The naysayers can find another place to trash with their ATVs. If this area is so impoverished - maybe its time for the residents to move and get a job.

  • goodnight-goodluck S.L.C., UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 8:01 a.m.

    Sorry folks the POTUS needs to protect the area and the only way to do that is monument status, our wise Utah Delegation will have it all developed for profit and that is the cause of the hue and cry from them. No $$ to be gleaned from and for our pals in industry. Just remember no one wants to tour a land covered with oil jacks and gas pads.

  • stevo123 slc, ut
    Dec. 19, 2016 7:55 a.m.

    I support the Bears Ears designation. Mr President, Make it happen.

  • Danforth Blanding, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 7:49 a.m.

    The author forgot to mention that almost all of the archaeological stuff is down in the Cedar Mesa area, which is about half a million Acres south of Highway 95. She also forgot to mention that watershed for San Juan County's two largest towns is included in the monument designation proposal. Were the monument to be designated as is proposed, Blanding and Monticello would be unable to service or improve their Watershed areas. BLM and Forest Service management is more than enough protection as it is. Leave us alone, Mr. President!

  • my screen name Murray, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 7:41 a.m.

    If the federal government paid state taxes on the land, I might not be as opposed, but they lock up the land from any development and tax revenue. Would New York City survive if 80% of Manhattan was Central Park?

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Dec. 19, 2016 7:40 a.m.

    @DN Subscriber writes,

    "Not to mention the devastating effect on a rural population which works darn hard to eke out a very meager living. Perhaps the leftists think the locals should just be shipped off to live on the welfare dole and be dependent on the government instead of self reliant."

    Tell me, please, what these hard working locals are doing right this minute (to be self-reliant) which they won't be able to continue doing after the monument designation. The only thing I can think of is that if they're currently looting gravesites and selling the stuff, they won't be able to keep doing this. Is this what you are talking about?

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 7:32 a.m.

    I agree with DN Subscriber that this is a well written article, presenting both sides to the argument. As someone who has enjoyed the Bears Ears area for close to 40 years, I know the land well. I've seen many secret areas discovered and looted. I've seen the rampant ATV tracks and the disregard a few visitors had on the land. With that said, I have mixed feelings for a Monument designation. Which makes my blood boil even further for the failings of Rob Bishop and our delegation.
    Obama is a decent man who approached our lawmakers 4 years ago, saying he preferred a legislative solution. It was plenty of time to develop a plan for the area. But if you weren't a local or an oil and gas lobbyist you found out quickly that Mr. Bishop had little regard for your opinion. He held no meetings along the Wasatch Front, zero. He shut the Indian tribes out. And then included millions of other acres and expanded he and his advocate's wish list in a huge, partisan bill called the PLI. It became obvious, that his intent was more to run out the clock than find a land use solution for the Bears Ears.
    Shame on you Rob Bishop. You failed us.

  • BYU Sports Nut Heber City, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 7:21 a.m.

    I love our national monuments. This area should not be one. There are other ways to protect the ancient sites. Locking up 1.9 million acres is rediculous.

  • Bored to the point of THIS! Ogden, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 7:19 a.m.

    I favor the designation.

    I absolutely trust the Federal government over our local leaders.

    The Federal government might be inefficient. I get that, but I also know that our Utah state leaders care about themselves, their buddies, and their wallets.

    Too often state officials do things contrary to the will of the people. It's sad we don't hold them more accountable.

  • Harrison Bergeron Holladay , UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 7:17 a.m.

    After Trump is sworn in, he should reverse everything Obama did after November 8th 2016 with one executive order.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 6:12 a.m.

    They way Utah politicians try to sell, lease and exploit our lands, that belong to all Americans, to enrich themselves and their lobbyist masters, is disgraceful. Utah needs Bears Ears N.M. to keep our lawmakers and officials from destroying it. Please protect our lands from the very people that are supposed to protect our land.

  • BJ61 South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 19, 2016 12:44 a.m.

    President Obama, designate the monument. Don't let Utah state politicians attempt to steal lands that belong to our national government or develop those lands for the sole purpose of profit.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 18, 2016 11:56 p.m.

    This is actually a fairly objective article, reporting both sides and their opposing views.

    The only indisputable fact is that the hardcore environmentalists want to lock up as much land as possible in "wilderness" or "monument" status and preclude anything but back packers entering the area. I guess that is great if you are a healthy, fit, hippy type who likes that sort of stuff. But, it makes it impossible for the other 90% of Americans to enjoy it.

    Not to mention the devastating effect on a rural population which works darn hard to eke out a very meager living. Perhaps the leftists think the locals should just be shipped off to live on the welfare dole and be dependent on the government instead of self reliant.

    The monument will be bigger than Rhode Island or Delaware so why not some sort of land swap to make it fair? The feds can have the Utah wilderness if they give us the title to the Cliff Walk with all the mansions in Newport, RI. (Really spectacular, and should have been preserved as wilderness instead of building rich people's houses there, right?)

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 18, 2016 11:16 p.m.

    "The fate of Bears Ears and San Juan County rests with one man, one pen, one document."

    That's not how things are supposed to be done in the United States of America. If this is important it is worth of congressional review and deliberation, not presidential fiat.