Why is the fate of Bears Ears National Monument important, even if you don't live in Utah?
When Utah's elected officials pressed the Trump administration to rescind the newly dedicated Bears Ears and the not-so-newly created Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, they were riding the wave of anti-Obama and anti-federal government sentiment. They wanted to bring the power back to the people, or so they said. The Trump administration took it one step further — they called for review of every national monument created since 1996.
With a single executive order, one state became twelve states. That means, if you live in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai'i, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon or Washington a monument (which is public land) in your state is now under review. Besides Utah, no state asked for a public lands review. In our opinion, they aren't doing it for the good of the people. The are doing it to make money. Don't take our word for it. "Let me make one thing clear," said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, "the Interior Department is in the energy business." So, we have a question for you — are our lands unique treasures to be preserved for our kids and their kids, or are they short term, politically expedient solutions to long term problems?
The public comment period for Bears Ears and the other Monuments up for review ended on July 9, 2017. In an overwhelming show of interest, public comments submitted exceeded 1.4 million. This issue is far from resolved. In the coming days and weeks, we will find out if our elected officials are hearing and acting on the will of the people.
should education and the environment have to compete against each other?
On May 24, 2017, Utah put up for sale a beautiful 640-acre parcel of land right on the border of Bears Ears and Canyonlands, the money to go towards education in Utah. On the parcel is a campground and outpost, all just twenty miles from Indian Creek. Bidding started at $1M. Who would buy it? The highest bidder. What would they do with it? Almost anything they want. Maybe a more important question than either of these is whether education and the environment should have to compete against each other. They are both important. People often ask: what would be so bad about federal public lands being owned by states? This. Because at any time, states can sell their lands to the highest bidder, regardless of intention.
Individuals make a difference.
It isn't a machine we are up against. It's the sum of individual actions. Utah's politicians have beliefs that they've acted on. On May 24, 2017, Jennifer Perkins Speers, a Utah conservationist and alfalfa farmer, acted on her beliefs when she purchased 640 acres between Canyonlands and Bears Ears at the Utah State Lands Auction for $2.5M. If you're like us, you probably don't have $2.5M hanging around, but you do have a voice. Individuals make a difference. If you didn't speak up during the public comment period, keep an eye on this issue. Follow it in the news. Be educated and speak up next time you are given a chance. Will it make a difference? We don't know. But we have to take our shot.
utah: life elevated. more like hypocrisy elevated.
The Visit Utah advertisement (video above) with a photo from Bears Ears kept popping up in our feed. Just as the Moki Dugway sits inside Bears Ears National Monument, Utah's Office of Tourism sits directly inside Utah Governor Gary Herbert's Office of Economic Development. This is the same politician who signed the resolution asking President Trump to repeal Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The state of Utah is willing to use Bears Ears and its beauty as an advertisement for their state — as a major economic driver. But Utah's politicians are not willing to ensure the protection of that land in its existing advertised beauty. Utah's politicians — promoting Life Elevated. More like Hypocrisy Elevated.
don't miss your shot.
The public comment period to speak up about this issues ended on July 9. But you can still take matters into your own hands and keep tabs on the progress. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke should soon let us know what the fate of Bears Ears National Monument will be. The fight may continue, depending on him. Don't miss your shot to comment in the future. Be educated and always take a couple of minutes to let your government officials know how you feel. #ProtectPublicLands