New “Bears Ears” public lands proposal
Jul 29, 2015 | 770 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The political stakes are rising as San Juan County Commissioners consider their actions related to the proposed Public Lands Initiative. The initiative, being developed by Utah Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, is an attempt to settle long standing issues related to public land in southeastern Utah. The progress of the Congressional effort may be the only thing standing in the way of a unilateral designation of a new national monument in San Juan County. Millions of acres of public lands in the county are being considered for the designation, which could be made with a stroke of a pen by President Barack Obama. As the County Commission moves toward a final recommendation, which will culminate several years of open public process in San Juan County, officials of the federal administration may be moving toward a secret and unilateral designation by President Obama, under the authority of the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act has been used by U.S. Presidents for more than 100 years to create national monuments, including three which were created by Obama in recent weeks. In his 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama vowed, “And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.” San Juan County is wrapping up a multi-year effort to develop a local proposal. A committee comprising more than a dozen local residents worked to develop a recommendation to the commission. The committee’s final recommendation to the commission includes support for the establishment of eleven wilderness areas on federal lands which are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In addition, the proposal calls for the creation of National Conservation Areas (NCA) on Cedar Mesa and Indian Creek. Information about the recommendation can be found at the San Juan Record website at www.sjrnews.com or at the San Juan County website at www.sanjuancounty.org/lands_bill.htm . In recent days, a new proposal adds to dozens of proposals which have been submitted by a host of other organizations. However, instead of simply adding another idea to a large pile of proposals, the new proposal may have support at the highest levels of government. A meeting was held at the Bears Ears in San Juan County on July 18. Media reports state that a number of high-level administration officials attended the meeting. Afterwards, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition announced that they were seeking additional protection for 1.9 million acres of public land in San Juan County alone. This represents one of the largest proposals yet on the table. Many of the pro-wilderness and protection proposals previously proposed for the lands billed (such as the Greater Canyonlands National Monument) have focused on the public lands west of Highway 191 between Moab and Blanding and north of Highway 95 between Blanding and Lake Powell. However, the new Bears Ears Proposal includes the public land west of Highway 191 beginning north of the Navajo Reservation and even crosses Hwy 191 to include the White Mesa reservation and portions of the Recapture Pocket. The coalition supporting the Bears Ears proposal includes a number of Native Americans tribes, led by the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni Pueblo, Ute Tribe of the Uinta Ouray Reservation, and Cochiti Pueblo tribes. An additional 25 tribes and pueblos expressed support for the proposal, in addition to groups including Utah Diné Bikéyah, the Conservation Lands Foundation, Grand Canyon Trust, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, and Friends of Cedar Mesa.  More information about the Bears Ears proposal can be found at www.bearsearscoalition.org/ .
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Recapture protest sentencing delayed again after attorneys question the impartiality of judge
Jul 29, 2015 | 290 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sentencing may be delayed yet again for two San Juan County residents convicted of organizing and participating in the Recapture Canyon protest in 2014. Attorneys representing San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman filed a motion in federal court on July 20 stating that “a reasonable person might reasonably question the court’s impartiality.” They ask that Federal Judge Robert J Shelby, who oversaw the jury trial and is scheduled to sentence the men on September 15, be removed from the case. On July 21, Judge Shelby requested that Chief Judge Nuffer refer the motion to another district judge for resolution. All other matters in the case are stayed until the motion is resolved. Commissioner Lyman and Monticello resident Monte Wells were convicted of two federal misdemeanor counts of organizing and participating in the May 10, 2014 protest. The protest was held to oppose the ongoing closure of portions of Recapture Canyon to motorized vehicles. The closure was instituted in 2007 by the Bureau of Land Management and continues to be in effect. Lyman and Wells were convicted on May 1, 2015 after a four-day trial. Sentencing was originally scheduled for July 15, 2015. After Lyman secured new legal counsel, the sentencing was delayed until September 15. Both men face up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for each count. According to the motion, Lyman may also face damage penalties of $172,302.70. In a separate case regarding road issues in Kane County, which was held after the May, 2015 trial of Lyman and Monticello resident Monte Wells, Shelby disclosed that he and his wife have a personal friendship with Steve Bloch, the head legal counsel for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA). At the time, Judge Shelby said he will not hear any cases in which Bloch appears but has not recused himself from matters involving SUWA in general. The prosecution of Lyman and Wells was handled as a criminal matter by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. SUWA was not a party in the prosecution. However, according to the motion, Bloch and others at SUWA have been “actively involved in the prosecution.” Bloch attended the trial and SUWA has filed letters to the court advocating a stiff sentence for Lyman.
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Some disturbing facts behind those ‘renewable’ wind turbines
Jul 29, 2015 | 857 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TAKE IT, OR LEAVE IT
by Jim Stiles Sometimes the endless open spaces of the West impress me most when I can’t see them at all. One night when I was a ranger at the Arches National Park campground, I encountered a woman so terrified she could barely speak. She was from New York City, camping for the first time in her life, and had pitched her tent next to the campground “comfort station.” She felt comforted by the 200 watt security lights. When our generator failed that evening, the lights in the toilet went out as well and the woman was on the verge of a breakdown. Through stifled sobs, she explained that she had never been in total darkness before. “Never?” I repeated. “Never!” she replied. What a tragedy. I can’t imagine anything more amazing than a night in the desert or out on the high plains or, best of all, up on the flank of some mountain, with nothing but a big dome of starlight and moonshine to show the way. There are still places out here where you only realize just how empty and untouched parts of the West are after the sun goes down.  It’s the absence of lights. I can still name a few places, even in 2015, where I’m stunned by the perfect darkness. Those light-less vistas are getting rarer every year as more and more development comes to the rural landscape. Not long ago, I was up at Arches at night for the first time in years and was shocked at the changes.  I once loved doing night patrols when I was a ranger and practically wallowed in the dark of the desert evenings. Even on the higher ridges, there was a notable absence of horizon glow.  All that has changed—it’s easy to discern the city of Grand Junction, 70 miles east as the crow flies. And now even Moab brightens the night. The 2,000 foot cliffs of Moab’s West Wall practically glow with reflected light from the city. A few hundred miles north of Moab, satellite images recently picked up an odd glow near the Canadian border in North Dakota. Photo analysts were puzzled at first; the glow suggested a metropolitan area comparable to Denver. But there’s no city within hundreds of miles. What the night images revealed were gas burn-offs and drill rig lights from thousands and thousands of gas and oil wells that have been developed by the oil and gas industry in the last few years. Environmentalists were shocked and a national movement to shut down fracking makes headlines daily. But go elsewhere, from the Great Plains to the Intermountain West to the Mojave Desert, and you can’t miss another industrial blight, on a scale comparable to North Dakota, if not bigger. It is taking a dramatic toll on the landscape, and becoming more pervasive by the month. It’s about to come to Monticello...And worst of all?  It proceeds with only minimal opposition from anybody, not even the mainstream environmental community. Vast acreages of land are being earmarked for the development of wind and solar projects. These aren’t mom & pop proposals to build rooftop panels or small windmills; instead, they are being planned and constructed on a scale that should stagger the sensibilities of anyone with an environmental conscience.  It represents the wholesale destruction of vast areas of the West. The finances behind Big Wind and Big Solar comes from Big Money. Many of the corporations investing millions of dollars in this public land grab for green energy are names we know— • British Petroleum (BP), who plans a 48,000 acre wind farm in northwest Arizona.    • Nextera, an energy giant based in Florida, builds fossil fuel, nuclear plants, wind and solar farms.  They recently destroyed a bald eagle nest in Ontario, Canada to make way for a wind farm. • Duke Energy builds coal and nuke plants but are testing the green energy market in Wyoming and Texas. They want to build the Searchlight Wind Project in the Mojave Desert. • Pattern Energy built the Spring Valley Wind Farm next to Great Basin National Park, Nevada and the Ocotillo Wind Express Wind Farm near Anza Borrego State Park, California.  They are owned by the Carlyle Group, with ties to coal, oil and military (Iraq oil wars) • The search engine giant GOOGLE recently announced plans to invest $55 million in a Mojave Desert wind farm. The driving force–an economic one–behind wind development is the Wind Production Tax Credit. It was due to expire a few years ago, but repeated last minute deals to extend the tax credit keep it alive.  Letters supporting the Wind Production Tax Credit have certainly helped. It was signed by The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society.  And so, while there is still serious debate that these “green” developments can even begin to make a dent in our insatiable hunger for energy, the subsequent environmental damage  cannot be understated. And yet suddenly, environmentalists don’t seem to notice...or care. The proposed wind turbine development here in Monticello is indeed, as the Record has noted, racing against the clock to get their project completed before the lose their subsidies. This isn’t about trying to “do the right thing” to save the world...this is about free money. And it’s ironic that at a time when some people in San Juan County are pushing to make this town the “next Moab,“ they even remotely think 400-foot gleaming white towers, capped with flashing red FAA warning lights would be some kind of drawing card for the tourists. And if it’s economically feasible, don’t think for a moment, that these 27 turbines are the end of it. If more money can be made, more will be built. And as far as I know, not ONE environmental group in Utah has offered the slightest bit of resistance or protest. And while environmentalists will note that few jobs locally are ever created by the oil and gas industry, the same is true for these wind turbine farms.  The Monticello wind project will do nothing to alleviate the lack of jobs here. In the end, I struggle to take mainstream environmentalism seriously.  Their opposition to environmental damage is frequently based upon a flawed, irrational, erratic, pick-and-choose nod to aesthetics. Consider...They fight tooth and nail to oppose the extraction of oil and gas in North America but stay silent on the issue of consumption, failing to even acknowledge the connection. They condemn habitat loss from energy exploration but somehow find a way to ignore the greatest destroyer of habitat loss–population growth and the expansion of Urban America.  (When a once wild section of desert in southern California was opened to massive recreational use and a mountain lion attacked and killed a bicyclist, there wasn’t a Sierra Clubber in sight to speak in behalf of  the cougar---green groups defend wild animals until they start eating their members.) They claim to support wilderness and then do everything they can to turn it into a money machine via an obscene cash cow–the amenities/tourist economy that demands, by definition, the massive consumption of fossil fuels. And remember those lights that could be seen from outer space? Those burning gas flares in North Dakota and the illuminated rigs? The same night skies are in jeopardy from “alternative energy” projects as well, and they continue to expand exponentially across the American landscape. As hundreds and thousands of wind turbines are proposed, planned and built across the Great Plains and the Intermountain West to the California Mojave and the Pacific Coast, nobody knows what their effect will be on humans or wildlife. But because the impacts come from “green energy,” few care. But at night...Already, clearly, the “aesthetics” of these projects are taking their toll, as thousands of red warning lights blink constantly in what was once an undisturbed and pristine night sky. Despite the contradictions and the hypocrisy, do aesthetics matter? Of course they do.  Would we ignore graffiti on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This is precisely the hypocrisy of the environmental mainstream when it goes ballistic over one form of vandalism while turning a blind eye to their own.
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City Council Candidate Profiles
Jul 29, 2015 | 271 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BLANDING CITY COUNCIL
Emil Romero
Kathrina Perkins
Trent Herring
Ruth S. Johnson
Travis J. Whatcott
Joe B. Lyman
Trevor Olsen


MONTICELLO CITY COUNCIL
Nathan Chamberlain
Mike Thomason
Sarah English
Sanford Randall
Blaine Nebeker
Staci Lou Hoggard
Eric George
Chris Baird
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Pioneer Day 2015
Jul 29, 2015 | 269 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pioneer Day 2015
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Ghost Tour 2015
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