The monumental battle over the West

Can tradition, recreation and tourism co-exist in Grand Staircase and Bears Ears areas? Should they?

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  • Canyonlover Blanding, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 10:52 a.m.

    Funny that these business owners are worried about what might happen to their business if the monument is reduced but they do not care to listen to those business owners that making the monument is going to hurt. Selfishness at its best. I am a business owner in the Bears Ears area. I am in tourism and have been for 10 years. I do not believe it will be good for my business due to the influx of outsiders coming to start their tourism based businesses. A monument will definitely not be good for the land, ruins and wildlife.

  • MacD slc, UT
    Aug. 29, 2017 5:26 p.m.

    The Monument designation is supposed to protect "Antiquities".
    "limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected."
    Nowhere in this Antiquities act of 1906 does it say anything about jobs.
    Let the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayors of these towns worry about the jobs.
    If President Trump and Secretary Zinke get these "smallest areas " redrawn and redrawn correctly and according to the actual intent of the Act, the boundaries will be reduced providing for more and better local management, protection and access by the public.
    Redrawing the boundaries should also create more opportunities for businesses to serve and support visitors who now have better access to these Antiquities.

  • biil Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 29, 2017 11:10 a.m.

    Here's an alternative cutline:

    Plantation life in the New West? Seasonal workers pick fruit and vegetables to serve upscale tourists at Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder.

    Mobile housing is in the background.

    Environmentalists and small business owners such as Blake Spalding, chef and co-owner of Hell's Backbone Grill, who support Bears Ears National Monument also prop up low-wage, tourist economies.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Aug. 29, 2017 9:29 a.m.

    Lou, in response to your last statement, we will.

  • Edmunds Tucker St George, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 6:09 p.m.

    ''they can't get to places they'd like to see like Hole in the Rock, which is 60 miles of hell to drive on that road because they won't let us pave it. People from all over the world want to see it, and they can't." Nothing new. Remember this headline from the DesNews? US government shutdown closes *** monuments, By Mark Scolforo Associated Press, Oct. 1, 2013.
    ''Visitors arrived to find "CLOSED" signs at the Statue of Liberty, the Smithsonian and other parks and historic sites across the country. Callers looking for help from the government reached only voicemail. *** Campers and hikers at the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and other national parks were given two days to pack up and leave, "There has to be better ways to run the government than to get to a standstill like this," said Cheryl Strahl, a disappointed visitor from Atascadero, Calif. "Why take it out on the national parks?" In Utah, rafting outfitters were not allowed on major rivers, and the state's five national parks closed during what is normally a busy time of year.''

  • Commenter88 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 28, 2017 5:12 p.m.


    Actually, you have overlooked several important facts:

    1. All land in Utah is governed by Utah laws, so to say Utah has no sovereignty over any land within its borders is patently incorrect.

    2. As noted by others on the board, land that was improved by the state, and in many cases previously owned by the state, at the state's expense, such as the roads through Grand Staircase are state investments and state creations. If you are talking only about "property rights" then there are interests on this property that are inherent to the state, and courts of law regularly recognize such in title considerations.

    3. As most out-of-staters are not aware, both national monument creations seized not only land use, but state land itself. It is regrettable that out-of-state interests have obfuscated the outright seizure of Utah School Land Trusts by these presidential administrations. This is particularly galling for Utahns as the funds are critical for our underfunded state educational system.

    I could go on, but these are indeed legitimate issues.

    One idea might be to encourage federalization in other states, such as Virginia, where this has yet to happen even once.

  • Commenter88 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 28, 2017 4:53 p.m.

    If we follow the true spirit and purpose of Teddy Roosevelt, and the great American Romantic tradition of Nature (Emerson, Thoreau, etc), upon which his movement was built, we would find that it is indeed quite different than the current rhetoric applied to monument-making and "preservation."

    The legal and historical American principles of access to outdoors and Nature were not designed to prop up restaurants, coffee shops, tourism, or, for that matter ranchers, lower beef prices, or expensive outdoor retailers catering to consumers. These are just different ideas about economic activity. If we are having an economic discussion, than those economic traditions of the local state should have precedence, keeping in accordance with the ideas of state sovereignty and congruence and equality with Eastern US states.

    But the premise is not primarily economically based. It is access-based and multi-use based. The draconian ideas of banning simple camp fires, proscribing simple geological rock specimen collection, firewood gathering, and temporary motorized access for the disabled was never meant to be a part of the purpose. But it has become a perverse irony of the times.

  • rmwarnick Draper, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 4:44 p.m.

    I have been involved in Utah public lands issues since the 1980s. A big problem has been ideological opposition to wilderness designation. Unlike national monuments, wilderness areas don't imply mass tourism and development. But stubborn resistance to wilderness created political roadblocks that led to the proclamation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument.

    After 20 years, the Grand Staircase-Escalante has probably done more for the local economy than a coal mine. Yet there hasn't been runaway development, or even reductions in grazing. Last time I was there, I saw many more cattle than people. The chorus of complaints about national monument management rings false.

  • MacD slc, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 4:02 p.m.

    I am for the responsible enjoyment and use of our public lands.
    If these two monuments are reduced in size, as i suspect they will be,
    Utah and the Feds will be able to protect the antiquities and provide better access and protection of this beautiful country.
    Many times we have seen the BLM and the National Forest service close off areas and trails with gates to "protect" them. When this happens no one benefits.
    If they are truly our federal lands , let us visit, view, and enjoy them.

  • texas ranger Leeds, Utah
    Aug. 28, 2017 4:00 p.m.

    The county commissioners want to keep tourism and not run off all the traditional occupations that were there before the monument designation. The chamber of commerce wants hiking tourism only. I think the county commissioners plan is for a lot healthier local economy. Hells backbone grill will do just fine being along side the most beautiful highway in America, hiway 12. If the grazing land around Big Water is no longer part of the Monument, i don't think it will hurt Hells Backbone Grill at all.

  • kaysvillecougar KAYSVILLE, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 3:42 p.m.

    I initially didn't understand how anyone who wanted to protect the environment would want tremendously more people because of the monument designation. It's all about the money and lifestyle they want. I feel really bad for all of the good people who have had these lands for so long. Even all the tribes who want this monument designation have financial interest and power in that declaration. The local navtive americans don't want it because they treasure the solitude, peace and spirituality of the place. Pretty sad that money and greed by some outweigh what has existed for years.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    Aug. 28, 2017 3:26 p.m.

    "The areas not being touched by grazing are being washed away. Most of what they call a monument is Bureau of Land Management rangeland that needs grazing,"


  • wasatchcascade Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 28, 2017 2:58 p.m.

    The only monumental battle I am aware of is in the mindset of Hatch, Lee, Bishop, our Governor and a drove of other politicians and County leaders. These same "fears and concerns" were lodged when Canyonlands was announced; "economic damage"" and the same with Capitol Reef, Arches and Zion. The GSENM has gained quiet acceptance by a majority of residents and visitors and if there is an effort to disrupt it, lawsuits will certainly result and in particular emphasis will be placed on the millions paid by the Feds to Utah (20 years ago) and that viable coal mining operations were swapped from Garfield to Emery County. Publicity and notoriety re the "negative effects" of monuments crowds out the enormity of the landscape in Utah, that is unlike any other local in the nation. Maybe Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce, Capitol Reef and Zion should be "shrunk" while we are at it, and then Trump can set up mini Mar a Lago's on the new monument edges. Rob Bishop and Mike Lee would likely applaud. Mike wanted both monuments rescinded - in total.

  • dski HERRIMAN, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 2:24 p.m.

    It seems those who are affected by this monument designation were never part of the equation. Big donors usually push and dominate the conversation. Then newcomers move in with their big wallets and slowly push out the locals by buying up cheap real estates. Eventually, the locals couldn't afford the rent or the prices tourists are willing to pay for their one day or weekend wilderness excursions. I guess Moab is a prime example of it.

  • jc2005 Cedar City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 2:09 p.m.

    Service Industry jobs don't support families. Mining jobs are primary jobs that support families. Logging jobs are primary jobs that support families. Mining and logging jobs support trucking companies. Trucking jobs are primary jobs that support families. Ranching can support a family. Working as a housekeeper in a new hotel or a dishwasher at the Hell's Backbone Grille isn't going to support a family. It might support one person and their pet cat. People who aren't involved in the ranching industry (Ashley Korenblat the mountain biker) shouldn't speak as experts on the ranching industry. Her comments on the ranching industry highlight the fact that she knows next to nothing about ranching out west.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    Aug. 28, 2017 1:58 p.m.

    Utah needs to do what Montana does, "Stick it to the Tourists!"

  • Justmythoughts Provo, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 1:31 p.m.

    If most of urban Salt Lake City residents had their way. Rural Utah would only be a tourist destination and the only jobs available would be to sell vegan burgers to them as they pass through to visit about 50 acres of the 100,000 acre monument.

  • Rocket Science Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 12:49 p.m.

    "The saddest thing about a tourism town is that it no longer exists for the people who live there. It exists for the people who are passing through."

    How true, consider what that really means. Moab for instance - as one who has frequented Moab for nearly 60 years, and many years multiple times; with family roots there from initial settlements: I have seen Moab survive the mining boom, survive the movies, and survive other ups and downs. Never has Moab changed so much and the area been stressed so severely as it is now by too many people.

    Too many people passing through who, while they remember the vistas the rest of their lives, leave behind the impact of their presence. I'll take a cow-pie on a trail here and there any day rather than used toilet paper strewn on sagebrush.

  • Giles Goat-Boy Monticello, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 11:39 a.m.

    The fight over massive monuments in rural Utah is not really about land use or even economics per se. After all, in reality, the industrial and pre-industrial utility of the region isn't changed that much by monument designation.

    In particular, "Bears Ears" contains almost no mineral or energy value and, as noted in the article, was already heavily blanketed pre-monument by wilderness or other protective designations. The looting or vandalism of antiquities was already illegal under multiple state and federal laws, and the use of the land by Native Americans is neither expanded nor contracted by monument designation.

    So it's true that the monuments aren't the primary culprit in the fading fortunes of the industrial-age components of the economies of southern Utah and it's also true that designating monuments actually does nothing for conservation.

    What the monuments really are is an effective tool in the campaign of amenity migration and rural gentrification that spans the intermountain West: amenitize an area by giving it a slick new brand, and let the OIA army do the rest. In other words, this is not a land use struggle; it's a class struggle.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 10:43 a.m.

    "The Native Americans in favor of the Bears Ears National Monument see it as a way to preserve not only a lifestyle but their very culture"

    Per liberals because Native Americans lost the wars, Native Americans practiced slavery, Native Americans were racist about other tribes and Anglos, Native Americans have no right to demand the protection of their monuments, their lifestyle nor their culture.

    But, I do not believe this. There are many good and good and noble people living on these allowed sovereign grounds, that are not part of the monuments.

    But to use this argument for saving the size of the monuments, is total hypocrisy in the progressive push to remove any and all Southern lifestyle and culture.

    So remember if you hater all things southern culture, you rate up there with those that hate other races. Be they Black -Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Euro-Americans, etc..

  • zipadeedoodah Lehi, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 10:35 a.m.

    Notice that when it comes to this topic most out-of-state respondents (including the Outdoor Retailers Association) are on the band wagon to take over Utah lands... of course, in their opinion, they are not Utah, but federal lands. Most Utahns see it differently.

    The irony of this is that many of these self-touted environmentalists are not really that but, like wolves in sheep's clothing, have not so pure motives. They are often the ones who bring the visitors into an area who, in turn, mess it up. OR did that. In the name of protecting our lands, they really want more access to them so they can sell their wares. This in turn leaves a bigger footprint on the land.

    My observation is that States generally do a much better job of managing things, including the environment. Compare most federal to state parks and you will see what I mean.

    I concur: "They want this to be their own playground," charges Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock. "This is their paradise. ... it imperils the land the campaigns hope to "save."

    It turns lands into a tourist zone enriching some few businesses (and OR companies) at the expense of displacing the rural inhabitants.

  • One opinion west jordan, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 9:48 a.m.

    I feel Utah has been unjustly eaten up with national parks of such huge size. The west has been eaten up with so many large pieces of land - way more than the eastern states that are beautiful also. Why shouldn't the western states have the right to use and manage their resources. In the past, we used to be able to take much better care of our forests and avoid the huge fires that now take such a toll. When I fly over states that manage their forests and produce wood products I see forest kept alive and thriving. I believe we need to responsibly manage our lands and the resources so it can continue to thrive - the fracking in Canada is a horrid mess, some of the coal mines back east have not been wisely managed - but they could be. There could be regulations to control that kind of destruction. States have the right to responsibly manage their land - even Utah.

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 9:45 a.m.

    The founding fathers of this country stated that the government should NOT own land, and for the eastern states, this guiding principle ruled, but as state's rights began to collide with federal governmental control, things changed. As the southern states sought to leave the union over the states rights issues, the feds clamped down. Some good came out of the civil war (such as abolishing slavery), but it also emboldened the feds to demand major concessions for western territories to become states. The territory of Deseret was carved up into a number of smaller "states", and all were required to give up large tracts of land to the feds (for what reason, other than for control). Utah has every moral right to demand equity and fairness in the debate over land within its borders, as does every other western state. The federal government overreach has now reached a point of telling us how to live, how to marry, how to educate our children, choosing judges, and how to provide for the health and welfare of our people. They envision one nation, with one ruling governmental body, and they are getting it.

  • The Trooper South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 9:35 a.m.

    There simply is no need for such large monuments. This is just the usual environmentalist goal that there should be no development anywhere at any time. If these designations are so important, why were these vast tracts of land not already covered with industrial plants? A few mines here and there is not going to ruin 2 million acres. No one is suggesting mines right on top of famous landmarks. For some reason, leftists must stay up at night worrying about how a vista that no one ever sees or wants to see is ruined by a mining operation, even though there are hundreds of vistas just like it that will remain completely unspoiled.

  • jackjoh RIVERTON, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 9:30 a.m.

    "The demands of a tourist town would never allow that (Sunday closings) to continue," he said. "The saddest thing about a tourism town is that it no longer exists for the people who live there. It exists for the people who are passing through."
    No truer words were ever spoken.
    I remember taking my family of 6 out to the desert to camp, go four wheeling and rock hounding and the only additional expense was .25 cent a gallon gasoline. This got us away from the big city hustle and bustle and added to the education and experience of my children. Now if you want to go to places like Yellowstone gas is $2.50 (1000% increase) and a campsite is $100 (Immeasurable increase) and you can not go on old 4x4 roads and pick up rocks.
    This is not progress unless you are a young healthy person (not handicapped or too young or old) or a government employee overseer of the so called Public Land (Kings Forest). Since this is a National Park you may think this is a poor example but I have been there when the fee was $6.00.
    Basically what it means is that all public land is being utilized contrary to the original Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976. Preservationist take note.

  • MGoodwin Murray/USA, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 8:50 a.m.

    I remember them trying to sell that same line to me back in high school about how service industries are the future, now they have robots that can do a fair number of those jobs, more being built every year. I don't mind the monuments, but frankly the size of them is obscene, they could have easily accomplished the protection of important areas with a fraction of the size. We could have easily avoided these problems if the people in charge had actually cared about both sides, but why care what the side not donating to your campaign thinks?

  • stevo123 Driggs, ID
    Aug. 28, 2017 8:23 a.m.

    @No names accepted, "rural areas exist for rural residents, not big city tourists" That is the most "rural centric" statement to come out of this discussion. Last time I looked, it is still public land belonging to all Americans, even those in the big cities.

  • robin138 springfield, VA
    Aug. 28, 2017 8:03 a.m.

    The monuments do not belong to Utah or the 1% of the US population who are citizens thereof. The extraction industry and ranchers are funneling money to extreme right wing groups trying to sell the issue as a state's right issue and it is not. The monuments belong to all 325 or so million citizens of the United States. It is quite simple. There is not one iota of legitimacy to the arguments made for and of an extremely minor percentage of the US population to the contrary.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 7:56 a.m.

    The restaurant is located next to Grand Staircase not the Bears Ears. Two different Monuments designated by different Presidents.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    Aug. 28, 2017 7:50 a.m.

    "They want this to be their own playground," charges Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock. "This is their paradise. They don't like us, they don't like Mormons, our traditions. They come out here from screwed up places like New York or California and expect us to listen to them. Why would we, when they've made such a mess of it?"

    (Typical voice of people who blame everyone for everything wrong in their lives.)

    "Eighty-five percent of our tourists are driving a car — and they can't get to places they'd like to see like Hole in the Rock, which is 60 miles of hell to drive on that road because they won't let us pave it. People from all over the world want to see it, and they can't."

    (I have never heard of it and I doubt 99.999999% of the world has.)

    "They all hate drilling, they all hate coal mines and they all hate fossil fuel except for the fact that it runs their air conditioner in the summer and it gets their vehicles to where they are going,"

    (These comments sure assume a lot about what people think.)

    When all else fails blame the liberals and the government.

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 7:47 a.m.

    "Eighty-five percent of our tourists are driving a car — and they can't get to places they'd like to see like Hole in the Rock, which is 60 miles of hell to drive on that road because they won't let us pave it. People from all over the world want to see it, and they can't."

    Seriously, that road needs to be paved. As a tourist who has a mini van with a bunch of kids, the wash board effect dirt road needs to go. Also, the dirt road turn off to spooky etc is far worse. You need a 4 wheel drive to get to the proper parking lot, so the minivan type need to hike a mile farther each way. Sure, you could pay a 4 wheel drive company $100 each person to take you places. Is that economical or accessible to most families?

    If you are going to tout tourism as why this region should not complain about vast expanses of acreage being tied up in a monument, make the jewels of the area accessible.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 7:42 a.m.

    I agree with Commissioner Pollock.

    This monument needs to be vastly reduced. I've ridden horses over a large chunk of this land and frankly, there is nothing that makes it any different from any other area in Utah or Arizona. Very few remarkable features. Canyonlands this isn't. However, there is one of the worlds largest deposits of low sulfur coal within the monument boundary that Clinton locked up for reasons known only to him and his buddies (think Chinese coal and Algore).

  • KSM's Dad Ogden, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 6:57 a.m.

    The web site for this restaurant states it is celebrating its 18th season. Bears Ears was made a monument last year. It didn't become successful in the last 6-8 months. Stating the reduction of a monument created last year as the reason you may not see a 19th season is a little disingenuous.

  • TerraPack Sandy, UT
    Aug. 28, 2017 6:54 a.m.

    There is an old saying which I will paraphrase.....

    If you are afraid to condemn something bad, people will not listen when you try to praise something you think is good.

    Our so-called environmentalists, welcomed Clinton's sleazy declaration of Grand Staircase purely for political gain. Well, that broke every rule that "environmentalists" have claimed they stood for and which they used to a fair-thee-well for decades to fight roads, refineries, water projects, private developments and etc.

    They only want tough rules when the tough rules block society in only one direction. When the left wants "no rule" for their great ideas, then NO-RULES rule the day.

    This two-faced approach by Leftist pseudo-environmentalists is, I think, one of the main reasons that millions in America will not listen to warnings about Global Warming.

    You have brought this situation on yourselves.

  • Morgan Duel Taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 9:37 p.m.

    60 years ago the road from Escalante to Boulder was a rough gravel road and few people other than those who lived there traveled to that country. The State decided to pave these roads and suddenly many people came to the area and seeing its beauty began to cry for protection.

    Now the area is a monument and people who have only been there for a short time but are making money because of the monument don't want it reduced. Greed is everywhere.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 27, 2017 4:56 p.m.

    Ironically, had Grand Staircase been made a monument 100 years earlier, we would not have the amazing stretch of road that allows so many visitors to see the spectacular beauty of the monument. Building the road required altering the landscape. In exchange, rather than a couple dozen professional backpackers having a pristine view, tens of thousands of regular people can experience the beauty of the area.

    We need to preserve some landscapes. But let us remember how amazing the east river looked before it was developed. Consider on what the Great Plains looked like with massive herds of bison roaming free. Providing housing, food, clothing, and income to millions of souls also has a kind of beauty.

    Western States must be allowed to develop our resources just as Eastern States did.

    That doesn't mean wall to wall skyscrapers ala NYC. Utahns don't want that. But neither does it mean locking put am but a few extreme athletes.

    Rural areas should exist for rural residents, not for big city tourists.