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Kanab, Utah's Weekly Newspaper, Serving Kane County, Utah & the Arizona Strip

Southern Utah News Front Page: August 10, 2017

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Through the Years - Part II

The Southern Utah News front page from 1996 when President Clinton designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

By Dixie Brunner

Editor’s note-This is the second segment in a series celebrating 25 years of Dennis and Dixie Brunner owning and publishing the Southern Utah News in Kanab. The feature series will be a stroll down memory lane featuring the top stories that have shaped Kane County. We hope you enjoy taking a look back – Through the Years!


Kaibab Forest Products Inc. closing

Kaibab Forest Products had been a major economic engine of northern Arizona/southern Utah for years. During its heyday, the company was certainly the largest area employer! With timber primarily logged from the North Kaibab Ranger District and processed in the Fredonia sawmill, it was a company near and dear to the hearts of many local families. Some had more than one generation who had been employed by Kaibab.

The beginning of the end seemed to be in the February 23, 1993 issue of the Southern Utah News. It had an article based on an interview with Forest Service Environmental Coordinator Brian Avery, explaining why there had been a long, dry spell between timber sales offered on the North Kaibab Ranger District. After Kaibab Forest Products had been having dramatic lay-offs and closure announcements, people were laying the blame right at the feet of the Forest Service.

“We are used to controversy,” said Avery. “We are developing a new management plan and it’s taking longer to prepare than we anticipated. We’re learning about Goshawk guidelines. We’re trying to do a very thorough job, making sure we’re in compliance with all national environmental regulations.”

In September of 1993, Kaibab Forest Products, Inc. moved its sales offices from Phoenix to Fredonia in an effort to streamline operations and reduce costs. “I suspect we’ll be operating in a pretty tough environment for the next couple of years,” commented Kaibab President Don Olsen.

Jim Koons said the move made sense. “Our interests in central Arizona have been minimized. We need to get our key people to where the action is.”

Olsen added they’d be shutting down the Flagstaff resource division, and bringing Jim Matson to Fredonia.

There were three large front page stories in the December 7, 1994 edition, all pertaining to the closure of the Kaibab Forest Products operation in Fredonia. “We have held off as long as we possibly could for the sake of these rural communities with the hope that the senseless gridlock of the national forests could be reversed,” said Don Olsen, on December 1, 1994. “But the reality is, we do not have sufficient raw materials to keep the mill operating, and we don’t see the situation changing for at least the next two to three years.”

Another story by Arizona House of Representatives Speaker Mark Killian promised that state lawmakers would do whatever they could to help Fredonia and other timber-reliant communities. He blamed the loss of 200 jobs three weeks before Christmas directly on ‘radical environmentalists.’

A third story concerning the closure was the bleak job picture Kaibab employees would be facing. “There’s not a lot of employment in these communities that can match the money and benefit package that Kaibab employees have had,” said Job Service manager Karen Alvey. “Historically, for almost the last 50 years, Kaibab has supported many area families. The ripple impact will be felt by every person in Kane County, not only economically, but socially as well.”

With tears and emotion, the last log was processed at the Fredonia Kaibab Forest Products sawmill, as reported in the February 8, 1995 edition.


Designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Certainly one the biggest stories covered during our 25 years owning the Southern Utah News, was the designation of the GSENM! In the September 11, 1996 edition of the SUN, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Kane County-a national monument?’ Here are a few excerpts from the first story, when the monument’s designation was only a rumor.

If the Clinton administration decides to adopt a proposal to designate a huge swath of southern Utah federal land a national monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act, life in Kane County will change dramatically.

“The most telling aspect of this is that the Clinton administration talked to the Washington Post about it before they talked to anyone in Utah,” said Governor Michael Leavitt. “There are dozens of constituents that would be affected by this and deserve to be involved in the discussion. We will take it seriously whenever it becomes a policy discussion rather than political rhetoric.”

Motivation for the designation appeared to be the proposed Andalex mine on the Kaiparowits Plateau. While language of the act can vary with the president who utilizes it, inside sources believe Clinton will endear his environmental constituency just weeks before the election by utilizing the Antiquities Act to forever quash the proposed Andalex coal mine.

But the proposed monument designation has ramifications beyond coal mining. Other land uses such as hunting, grazing and logging may be seriously impacted if Clinton decides to adopt the proposal. “Fifty years from now, everybody will think that this was a good idea,” said Ken Rait of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “We think it (Clinton using the Antiquities Act), would be a bold, visionary move.”


Editor’s note-Since the GSENM designation was such a significant story in southern Utah history, we are including most of the original stories about it. I attended President Bill Clinton’s announcement at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. The following article was originally published in the September 25, 1996 edition.


President inks National Monument

“It will become a testament to our children,” said President Clinton of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument designation in his September 18 Grand Canyon South Rim address.

With that, Clinton signed into law the largest designation of landmass in the lower 48 states in this century. The carefully selected and invitation-only crowd broke into fervent applause.

The morning’s events began with several environmental speakers addressing the crowd. The spirit of the audience soared, as a harmonica played “Amazing Grace” with the incredible Grand Canyon as backdrop. All speakers praised Clinton for his courage in utilizing the Antiquities Act to protect the land forever.

Robert Redford, actor and outspoken environmentalist, held court and celebrated in the Grand Canyon lobby building before the announcement, surrounded by members of the Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Grand Canyon Trust.

“Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet,” said a Grand Canyon Trust representative.

“This is just a start. The Antiquities Act has been an important tool to help presidents designate lands that should be respected and preserved,” said another speaker. “September 18, 1996 will be a monumental event of environmental importance. Today we will receive a lasting gift of a new National Monument.”

“It (the Kaiparowits) holds the most coal anywhere in the world. How can our government give up on a resource like that?” questioned another passionate speaker.

“It takes presidential courage, wisdom and spirit. The historic eagle flies high today,” said yet another.

Colorado Governor Ray Romer said we must preserve the West and its incredible beauty, and we need to find a way to keep the quality of the land. “The president is doing the right thing by this act.”

Vice-president Al Gore said the monument designation was extremely important to him. He related a trip that he had taken to our region and said, “this event has a deep personal meaning for me. I was stunned by the natural beauty of this area.” He praised Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Wayne Owens, the Grand Canyon Trust and Colorado Governor Ray Romer for their support in making the designation.

Gore said stewardship was going to be the guiding principle of the next Clinton Administration. “It (the designation) is doing what we should do,” said Gore. “They won’t get their way anymore. Thanks to President Clinton’s leadership, we’ll leave it (the land) better.”

Clinton also told a story of a trip to northern Arizona. He said that in 1971, he came to the Grand Canyon. “I found a place on a rock and I was all alone,” said Clinton. “Twenty-five years later, my mind drifts back to that time alone. I want more sites to be there for quiet reflection for more Americans.”

The President told the crowd that the 1906 Antiquities Act gave him the authority to designate certain lands for protection, without congressional approval. He said numerous presidents from both political parties have worked to preserve these places. “I thank goodness that the Act is on the books.”

He said the new monument in the most isolated section of land in the lower 48 states, will be called the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. “Some of the most remarkable country in the entire world lies there,” said Clinton.

The President said the new monument would apply to federal land only, and families who live there would be allowed to continue to do what they’re doing now. The BLM will work with others over the next three years to figure out land management issues, and the land would be open for multiple uses, such as grazing and hunting.

Land within the monument which has been earmarked as school trust lands, will be exchanged. “These lands never provided much revenue anyways,” said Clinton. “I will use my office to accelerate the school trust land exchange. We can protect Utah kids, without risking their education. This will not come at the expense of Utah school children.”

Clinton made it clear that mining, what most believe was the real focus of the designation, was another issue. Clinton said that while coal mining and resource extraction had its place, “you can’t just have mines everywhere, and we shouldn’t have mines in our national treasures!”

He said that Pacific Corps had already sold or traded their leases on the Kaiparowits Plateau to the Federal Government. “I hope that the foreign company Andalex will follow their example.”

In closing, Clinton thanked the ardent environmental supporters who had attended the rally. “We live up to our obligation,” said Clinton. “We will save the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for our children.”


Diary of three Kane Countyites

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Kane County Commissioner Steve Crosby, Kane County Attorney Colin Winchester and myself, (Dixie Brunner), decided to attend President Clintons September 18 press conference at the Grand Canyon South Rim.

Since national media had indicated the President would be signing a bill to create most of our county a National Monument, we thought it a good idea to go hear the details. With the help of Dick and Sharlotte Brewer at the Kanab Airport, we were able to hitch a ride on Shea Houston’s Lake Mead Air plane that was also carrying the KSL-TV Channel 5 news team.

Upon arrival at the South Rim, we hailed a taxi to drive us to where the action was. It was a media circus, with more people touting more causes, than I had ever seen. One young man, all of 14, handed me literature on how the North Kaibab Forest was being raped. When questioned about the issue, he responded that the awful capitalists were wanting to salvage timber from the area that had been burned last summer.

It quickly became clear that the White House didn’t want anyone opposed to the designation in attendance- we were turned down for tickets to attend Clinton’s address. We wandered inside the Grand Canyon Lodge to see if anyone could help us get in. Several environmental groups were holding court inside, with Robert Redford in the center. Winchester eventually scored some tickets-in the back row!

CNN had called the newspaper and Commissioner Crosby’s house earlier in the day to set up an interview with him. Since we had time before the President’s address, we went around to the CNN headquarters to meet with Wolf Blitzer.

The media area was impressive, not because of elegance, but electronics. NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN all had broadcast set-ups. All the media personnel, from technicians to people you see on-screen, were friendly and respectful.

A Secret Service (SS) man came up and told us we had to be “swept.” We looked at each other – this obviously meant we were going to get better seats. They quickly security-checked us and then asked to examine my purse (which incidentally has been used as an anvil before). The SS agent took one look inside and said, “How do you get all that #%@& inside?” He handed it back to me.

Winchester, Crosby and myself proceeded along to the secured area where Clinton was to be. We planted ourselves by the speakers, looking somewhat conspicuous with our black ribbons.

Secret Servicemen kept staring at us, talking into their lapel microphones. It was apparent they weren’t sure who we were. I was worried that one of the men with machine guns on top of the building would soon realize that we probably weren’t supposed to be there. I told Winchester and Crosby my concerns, and they told me to be cool and quit whining. I was glad my life insurance was paid up!

While we were waiting, CNN, Newsweek, Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Tribune interviewed Crosby and Winchester. We were at least getting a lot of exposure for Kane County by being there.

Clinton and Gore strode past us, with “Hail to the Chief” reverberating off the canyon walls. Clinton gave his speech announcing the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

After the address, Clinton worked the crowd shaking hands and being photographed with small children. As he approached our spot by the speakers, Crosby withdrew a letter from his pocket given to him by some Kanab High students. He politely told one of Clinton’s aides that he wanted to give the President the letter and talk with him briefly about the designation, before he signed the bill.

Winchester and I were pleased when a dressed-up man came up to Crosby, and requested that he follow him. We thought he had his personal interview, as he was being led away.

Clinton shook hands as he walked away from the main area. I heard a voice saying, “Dixie, Dixie.” I looked over to see Crosby in a small, roped-off area. I gave him the thumbs-up sign, thinking that he was going to get to talk to the President. When he yelled over to send bail money, I realized he had been removed from the proceedings!

As we waited for the airport to re-open, the three of us discussed the impact of Clinton’s actions on Kane County, and knew that we had truly experienced a memorable day.


Editor’s note-While we were attending the monument designation, hundreds of Kane County residents were attending a “Loss of Rights” rally at Kanab High School. We’ve included a few some excerpts of Carol Sullivan’s rally story.

A “Loss of Rights” rally was held at 12 noon Wednesday at the Kanab High School at the same time President Clinton planned to sign the National Monument bill at the Grand Canyon South Rim.

A packed auditorium came to protest their loss of rights with black balloons and black ribbons. Just 10 days earlier, county officials learned of the proposed monument from a Washington Post article which read Clinton planned to make most of Kane County a national monument, without any kind of public input from citizens impacted. Frustrated elected officials and community leaders spoke to the audience.

Kanab resident Roger Carter read an open letter to the president, reminding him “our ancestors are buried here. We’ve taken care of the land, that is why it is so pristine.” He challenged the President to explain to our children why he is taking this away from them. He concluded that we will fight this misuse of power and not allow you to do this to our children.

Orderville Mayor Scott Goulding said the designation was backed by extremists who don’t give thought to where electricity comes from. “The president has proclaimed himself King,” said Goulding.

“It has been pretty secretive,” said Kane County Commissioner Norm Carroll in frustration. “We are proud of our county and have taken care of it. We still don’t know how this will impact our county. I would like to think this county has a future for our children. This is an issue of control of public lands and resources.”

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