by Joe B. Lyman
With so many voices speaking at once, many of which express exactly my thoughts on the Bears Ears monument designation, I have had little desire to add to the fray.
It has been heartening to see so many take such an intense interest and get involved.
There has been a LOT of activity on the disposition of ‘public’ lands in recent years, and I have tried to influence the debate to the extent that I could.
It is pretty sad that the proponents of the monument feel their position, despite overwhelming political support outside of Utah and San Juan County, is so weak that they feel compelled to pay Minions of Mindless, Misinformed Mercenaries to come to Bluff to give ‘local’ input to Sally Jewell.
I am reminded of the Johnny Mathis song from 1978, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” which speaks of an end to a love affair. We have had a love affair with the land in San Juan County for decades, centuries if you have native blood.
Our access has become ever more restricted and, as is the case with love affairs, emotions have been rising high, especially with the threat of a great deal more limits put on our use of the land.
There has been action in the political arena and encouragement for broader support and involvement that have gone largely unheeded until now.
It is great to see so much true grassroots effort now, but I believe the monument designation has been decided for two or three years, so the protests against it are too late in that sense.
However, the protests ARE valid and may still serve a purpose in perhaps restricting the amount of land tied up or relaxing the restrictions on use. Those who favor the PLI (Public Lands Initiative) may find that San Juan County was sold out in the deal.
The current PLI certainly is NOT what the County recommended and approved. However unlikely, a monument designation could be reversed but the PLI almost certainly could not because it is ‘our’ plan.
The only solution big enough to solve the disaster of Federal Land Management is Statehood being exercised through the transfer of public lands to Utah.
I will not engage in defense of this idea in this forum except to point out that the Utah State Enabling Act reads virtually word for word the same as one of a couple of versions of legal language used to create a state.
The Federal Government is in breach of contract with the western states to honor their agreements. There is precedent for states forcing the FED to honor their contract in court.
Our efforts in opposition to the monument, as vigorous as they are, pale in comparison to the overwhelming machine working in favor of it.
That does not mean we should not fight the fight. There are times when the unwinnable battle is absolutely the right choice because compromise or capitulation are out of the question.
I would rather fight a lost battle than negotiate an unconditional surrender. I’m afraid the PLI is just that. Also, on the topic of compromise – there is NO compromise from the extreme environmental left.
They accept compromise but continue working on the next ‘compromise’. This will continue until they accomplish their original goal. They never move to the middle, and they do not negotiate in good faith.
There is too much empty rhetoric for and against with too little real meaningful action that may make a difference. I encourage any and all to keep writing letters and making phone calls to those who influence these decisions.
So I have to wonder:
Do most of the people in favor of the monument even know where it is, what it is and the scope of it? I don’t think so. They came to Bluff expecting to see the Bears Ears for heaven’s sake. They came to protest construction of condominiums.
Obviously they have been lied to, but what else is new? One of the Blue Sheep in Bluff was heard to say, “Why are they opposed to something that is good?”
Obviously no one would be opposed to something they thought was good. I wonder if they ever considered that the premise of it being good is questionable.
Those speaking in favor can already do all the things they want to do under a monument designation, probably more. The monument will certainly provide fewer opportunities in time.
For those opposed they lose economic opportunity access to the land they love and face possible changes in their lives and livelihood. It becomes apparent that limiting economic activity is the real purpose of the monument.
Many monumental proponents are honest in what they feel, but I don’t believe the real movers and shakers, the influencers of the mob mentality, are honest at all.
Tourism is a poor replacement for more stable, high paying jobs. I have seen the communities that surround the national parks.
They do not thrive if they are locked into a one-dimensional economy of seasonal tourism. Employment is low and low paid.
Many of these places have a few motels, restaurants and gas stations and little else. Many of the businesses shut down for weeks or months at a time in the off-season.
All the same, I Am Encouraged:
I have seen local Bilagaana and Dineh come together with a shared interest like rarely before.
Perhaps we can learn from this trial how to work together better on our common interests and worry less, even celebrate and appreciate, our cultural differences.
Let’s move forward together in a new if not renewed unified strength. Whatever comes, we can work through it better together than divided.