As promised, lawsuits filed over monument changes
Dec 12, 2017 | 0 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As promised, a host of lawsuits have been filed in federal court after the December 4 decision by President Donald Trump to reduce Bears Ears National Monument. No less than three lawsuits were filed regarding Bears Ears and two more were filed regarding the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. All five lawsuits were filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C. In general, it is anticipated that the lawsuits would seek injunctions to block mining and oil and gas drilling if new permits are issued for land within the prior monument boundaries. The lawsuits, which were filed by tribal and environmental organizations, challenge the authority of President Trump to rescind previous monument declarations using the Antiquities Act. One lawsuit was filed by the five Native American tribes that make up the inter-tribal coalition that pushed for the designation of Bears Ears. They include the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni tribes. Regarding the lawsuit, attorneys for the tribes said, “President Trump’s action to revoke and replace the Bears Ears National Monument is not only an attack on the five sovereign nations with deep ties to the Bears Ears region, it is a complete violation of the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution. “No president has ever revoked and replaced a national monument before because it is not legal to do so.” A second lawsuit was filed by eight organizations representing Native American and conservation interests. They include Utah Diné Bikéyah, Patagonia Works, Friends of Cedar Mesa, Archaeology Southwest, Conservation Lands Foundation, Access Fund, Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. They argue that the President’s proclamation “is contrary to law, ignores overwhelming public support for the original monument designation, and dishonors Native American heritage and culture.” Utah Diné Bikéyah began to form in 2010 and was on the forefront of developing the Bears Ears proposals. The organization has a board of directors made up of San Juan County residents from across the county. Friends of Cedar Mesa is a Bluff-based organization that also began in 2010. The group has been involved in a number of projects in the area and was involved in the designation of Bears Ears National Monument. The third lawsuit was filed by a group of conservation organizations, including The Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. The groups charge that the president “violated the 1906 Antiquities Act and the U.S. Constitution by eviscerating the monument. “The unprecedented act leaves rare archaeological sites and stunning wildlands without protection from looting, prospecting, oil and gas drilling, uranium mining, or off-road vehicle damage.”  Bears Ears National Monument was declared on December 28, 2016 by President Barack Obama. It contained 1.35 million acres of public land and covered about 28 percent of the land mass of San Juan County. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was declared on September 18, 1996 by President Bill Clinton. It contained 1.865 million acres of public land in Garfield and Kane counties. Both monuments were created through the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law that gives the President the authority to declare monuments in order to protect threatened antiquities. The two Utah monuments were designated without the support of Utah elected officials and have remained controversial since that time. At the Utah State capitol building in Salt Lake City, President Trump signed an executive order that cut more than two million acres of land out of the two national monuments. In their place, Trump created the Indian Creek and Shash Jaa national monuments in San Juan County, and the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons units in Garfield and Kane counties.
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Boundaries of new monuments still vague, details becoming clearer
Dec 12, 2017 | 1 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Preliminary maps are still all that are available, but the boundaries of the new monuments are starting to be understood. Indian Creek National Monument
The new Indian Creek National Monument includes a total of 86,447 acres of land, including nearly 5,000 acres of private ground. There are approximately 15 640-acre sections of Trust Lands within the monument. The new monument includes the Dugout Ranch, which is owned by the Nature Conservancy and houses the Canyonlands Research Center. According to the Nature Conservancy, the Center works to increase understanding of the interactive effects of climate change and land-use, and focuses on diminished Colorado River water quantity and quality, grazing and recreation impacts, and invasive species. Entrance to the monument is into Indian Creek Canyon near Newspaper Rock. It appears as if the eastern boundary includes the cliff faces to the east of Indian Creek The monument includes Indian Creek, Shay, and Cottonwood canyons and includes the iconic North and South Six-Shooter Peaks. The western border of the monument is Canyonlands National Park. After Indian Creek canyon opens up north of the Dugout Ranch, the northern border of the monument follows Hwy 211 to the entrance to Canyonlands National Park. Everything to the south of Hwy 211 appears to be in the monument, while areas north of the road are outside the monument. As a result, it appears as if the Superbowl Campground is in the monument, while Creek Pasture, Hamburger Rock and the Falls campgrounds are not in the monument. Bridger Jack Mesa and Lavender Mesa are in the monument boundaries, as is Cathedral Butte and the upper drainage of Salt Creek. Boundaries of the monument are anchored by the Forest Service boundary on the south side. Shash Jaa National Monument
The new Shash Jaa National Monument includes 140,643 acres of public land and 1,694 acres of private land. It appears as if there are portions of 18 Trust Land sections within the monument. The monument begins in the Forest Service highlands around the Bears Ears Buttes and drops more than 4,800 feet to the San Juan River. It appears as if county road 268 is the northern boundary of the monument. Areas north of the road, including Hammond Canyon and into Kigalia, are not in the monument. South of the road is in the monument, including Milk Ranch Point, Lewis Lodge and Hotel Rock. Arch Canyon and Mule Canyon drain southeast of the Bears Ears and they are included in the monument, as is Texas Flat. The monument opens to the south through the Comb Wash drainage and includes Comb Ridge monocline and Butler Wash. The western boundary of the monument follows the BLM wilderness areas that drain east of Cedar Mesa. The boundary includes portions of Lime Ridge and then drops to the San Juan River along Comb Wash. San Juan Hill is included in the new monument boundaries. You enter the new monument boundaries from the east on Hwy 95 near the Butler Wash roadside ruins, where the road climbs out of the Cottonwood Canyon drainage. From Bluff, the eastern boundary on Hwy 163 is Butler Wash and it includes the private property recently purchased by Lyman Family Farms. The eastern ridge of Butler Wash appears to form the eastern boundary of the monument. You enter the new monument from the west on Hwy 95 near Salvation Knoll. The Bears Ears Commission now includes the county commissioner that represents southeast San Juan County, in this case Rebecca Benally.
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Change in monument status may bring changes to Friends of Cedar Mesa
Dec 12, 2017 | 7 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The December 4 executive order by President Donald Trump to rescind Bears Ears National Monument and create two smaller monuments may trigger significant changes for a Bluff-based nonprofit organization. Friends of Cedar Mesa (FCM) took two actions in the past week, including filing a lawsuit in federal court against the recent changes in the monument and starting a fundraising effort to create a private “visitor center” in Bluff. Friends of Cedar Mesa has evolved over time since it was created by a former Bureau of Land Management employee, Mark Meloy, in 2010. The organization began as a traditional “friends” organization, working with the federal agencies to provide assistance in the management of public lands. Through the process that resulted in the creation of Bears Ears National Monument, the organization began to not just assist the agencies, but to advocate for land policy positions. They became a vocal advocate for the creation of the monument. With the filing of the federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration, the organization may be moving toward an adversarial relationship with the federal government and the federal agencies. Friends of Cedar Mesa is one of eight organizations to file a lawsuit representing Native American and conservation interests. The lawsuit was filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C. Other organizations involved in the lawsuit include Utah Diné Bikéyah, Patagonia Works, Conservation Lands Foundation, and others. While Utah Diné Bikéyah is governed by a board made up of San Juan County residents, the organization headquarters are in Salt Lake City. Friends of Cedar Mesa is the only local organization to file a lawsuit against Trump’s actions. Josh Ewing, executive director of FCM, explained the decision to file the lawsuit, “We will utilize all tools available to protect this landscape.” Because visitation to public lands in San Juan County is on the rise, Friends of Cedar Mesa started fundraising efforts in the past week for a new “Bears Ears Visit with Respect Education Center.” The project is designed to help teach visitors proper guidelines for visiting archaeological sites. A promotional pamphlet for the effort says, “Bears Ears is not a playground, and special care is needed, beyond basic Leave No Trace principles, to preserve such a sensitive cultural landscape.” FCM board president Vaughn Hadenfeldt said the Education Center is “a location where good information can be disseminated to people visiting Bears Ears.” “There is so much uncertainty around the monument right now, and we don’t know when a traditional visitor center might be built,” he said. “So this is one of the first times, I think, when a bunch of private people have stepped up and said, ‘What can we do?’” Over the last several years, FCM has developed a set of Visit with Respect educational tools for exploring cultural sites. They’ve also created a Visit with Respect ambassador program, which trains volunteers to meet the public in the field and share tips for safe visiting with them. Hadenfeldt said the Education Center is meant to work in conjunction with Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service efforts to distribute visitor information. “We want to have a good working relationship and partnership with the government agencies who are in charge of taking care of and protecting these places,” he said. “We hope to fill in some of the gaps that they might not be able to address at the moment, whether it’s from a lack of funding or staff.” Josh Ewing explained that the visitor center effort is entirely independent of the federal agencies. FCM hopes to raise $840,000 over six months to purchase a building in Bluff, hire Education Center staff for the first three years, and to purchase an adjacent building that will be converted into office space for the Bears Ears Commission. In addition to the Education Center, the building will provide offices for FCM staff and an event space. A Kickstarter drive, which runs through the end of December, brought in $171,000 in the first two weeks. An additional $267,000 has been raised through FCM’s website and elsewhere, bringing the total to $438,000. The Kickstarter campaign came under fire recently for offering a “secret” Bears Ears hike to those who donate $10,000 or more. Questions were asked whether or not soliciting donations in this way is ethical. In response, FCM issued a clarification statement that says, “It was a mistake to use the word ‘secret’... No truly sensitive archaeological sites (e.g. with important in-situ artifacts) will be visited.” On December 12, the Kickstarter site said the reward for a $10,000 donation is “no longer available.” Bluff, which has billed itself on yard signs around town as the “proud gateway to Bears Ears,” is the perfect location for the Education Center, according to Hadenfeldt. “We’re kind of the hiking community, and long-time visitors tend to have cultural resources as their concern and passion,” he said.
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Dr. Mike Magill (left) and Rita Osborn (right) present Clinical Training in Rural Utah awards to Logan Monson of Blue Mountain Hospital, and Dr. Brian F. Olsen of UNHS. Courtesy photo
Dr. Mike Magill (left) and Rita Osborn (right) present Clinical Training in Rural Utah awards to Logan Monson of Blue Mountain Hospital, and Dr. Brian F. Olsen of UNHS. Courtesy photo
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Utah Navajo Health Systems, Blue Mtn Hospital win health honors
Dec 12, 2017 | 10 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Mike Magill (left) and Rita Osborn (right) present Clinical Training in Rural Utah awards to Logan Monson of Blue Mountain Hospital, and Dr. Brian F. Olsen of UNHS.	Courtesy photo
Dr. Mike Magill (left) and Rita Osborn (right) present Clinical Training in Rural Utah awards to Logan Monson of Blue Mountain Hospital, and Dr. Brian F. Olsen of UNHS. Courtesy photo
slideshow
Blue Mountain Hospital (BMH) and Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. (UNHS) were honored at the Rural Health Association of Utah’s annual conference, on December 1 at Dixie State University, in St. George, UT. BMH and UNHS were both recipients of the 2017 Clinical Training in Rural Utah Award for their contributions to rural health in Utah, according to Rita Osborn, Director of the Rural Health Association of Utah. The Award was bestowed upon Blue Mountain Hospital in recognition of its commitment to training future healthcare providers. From pre-health students to medical residents, Blue Mountain Hospital has opened its doors and provided training opportunities to students from all over the country and especially to students from Utah who want to serve rural Utah. Logan Monson, RN, Assistant Director of Clinical Services accepted the award on behalf of BMH. UNHS was also honored for its commitment and accomplishments working with graduate healthcare students, as they pursue their future career, and along the way develop a commitment to serving rural communities. Through this, UNHS educates health providers to be culturally sensitive and self-empowered. UNHS Dental Director Dr. Brian F. Olsen, DDS accepted the award for UNHS. The awards were presented by Dr. Mike Magill, MD, who specifically mentioned that the real “stars of the show in rural areas” are these two facilities helping in education and in health. Not only do these facilities serve those individuals facing poverty, low health outcomes, and food insecurity, but they work diligently to educate future healthcare providers with a passion for rural medicine, Magill explained. UNHS started in 2000 with a mere 20 employees and one physician, and has since grown to more than 300 employees in primary care, dental, behavioral health, optometry, specialties, and telehealth programs. Blue Mountain Hospital, in Blanding, is an eleven-bed Critical Access Hospital, providing needed care to residents and visitors of San Juan County.
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