The first Joint Coordination meeting of Kane and Garfield County Commissioners, BLM leaders and cattle ranchers from both Kane and Garfield Counties was held at the Search and Rescue building to discuss livestock and grazing on the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The GSENM is currently in the process of amending the current Grazing Plan. The meeting, organized by Commissioner Jim Matson, Resource Committee, is a first effort for coordination. Commissioner Doug Heaton announced, “This is an historic coordination effort.”

Margaret Byfield explained the purpose of NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) and FLPMA (Federal Land Policy Management Act). Both acts outlined the concept of local and federal responsibilities identified goals and utilizing a continuous effort to resolve conflicts and reconcile inconsistencies.

Kane County Land Use Ordinances and the Kane County Resource Management Plan, as they are affected by grazing, were briefly reviewed by Shannon McBride. Brian Bremner did the same for Garfield County.

Kane County Deputy Attorney Ken Burggraaf defined the language in The National Landscape Conservation Act, and subsequent acts as protecting livestock grazing and multiple use. He defined the latest act as not changing in the Monument. GSENM Monument Manager Cindy Staszak said that she did not interpret the definition the same way.

One of the important purposes of this first coordination meeting was to have input from local ranchers who have allotments on the Monument. They were represented by fourth and fifth generation ranchers. Spokesmen for cattle ranching included Danny Little, Danny Button and Harold Hamblin (Kane) and Todd Phillips and Dale Lefever (Garkane).

The ranchers expressed frustration and concern about road maintenance, erosion, seeding, and water maintenance. They cannot take equipment in to repair and make improvements, fix pipes, repair or build reservoirs. Rangeland seeding and bush control is needed. “The permittee should be able to use natural resources and manage permits.” In other words, they cannot cut cedar posts to build or repair a fence. The ranchers lamented that any improvements approved takes a minimum of two to three years. “The GSEMN allows no improvements.”

Another concern, “Environmental groups have a tremendous impact on what the Monument does. We have a double standard. We’ve earned respect. The BLM gives environmentalist groups more respect. We are the eyes and ears on the land. We have a vested interest. With erosion, the BLM has a “do nothing policy.” One definition does not fit all.” The example given was riparian.

Hamblin gave an example of the difficulty of fulfilling a request by the Park Service to build a fence at Lake Powell. They were unable to haul in the fencing, therefore a helicopter was suggested by the Park Service. They finally got permission to drag the fencing material in by using horses. Hamblin said there was a lot more destruction of plants, etc. than there would have been using a truck.

Kevin Heaton, Utah State Extension, said the Monument had done some treatments on a small scale.

Lamar Smith, Castle Management, Range Management Specialist and retired university professor, spoke on allotment management. “We need to think on a much greater magnitude. We need adaptive management. We need short term and long term plans for improvements.”

The meeting concluded with Gil Miller, Economist, reviewing his report Economic and Cultural Report on Livestock Grazing in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument derived in part from data turned in by permit holders. “It was a good return percentage.” The economic revenue impact of grazing in both counties is just under $12 million. If the AUM’s were replaced by tourism, tourists would have to come, stay several days, and spend $200 per person per day. The total impact multipliers for direct, indirect and induced are 47.74% higher than the tourist-related multiplier. The infrastructure to accommodate more tourism would be costly to the counties, cities and the BLM. You get more “bang for your buck, with less drain on finances with cattle grazing.” Miller’s conclusion, “Therefore Garfield and Kane Counties’ economic region local governments and citizens should vigorously oppose any livestock grazing plan that reduces or eliminates livestock grazing in the GSENM.”

The next coordination meeting will be beld on September 15 in Panguitch. The meeting will continue with others having the opportunity to respond with a goal of resolving conflicts.