Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for February 9, 2017
Commission approves Resolution to shrink Monument
A packed room in the District Court was present to hear the Kane County Commission consider Resolution 2017-1, which is “Kane County intent to identify the minimum area necessary for the GSENM.” The commissioners had prepared a handout and power point presentation to explain their position to the audience. The courtroom was full with many standing in the hall entrances of both doors.
The handout described regulations that govern monument lands and non-monument lands. They listed 26 regulations, which are the same for both. They went on to a 20-year evaluation for the GSENM with improvements. There were two with improvements: science (paleontology, etc) and recreation. No improvements included preserving and maintaining roads, access, grazing, sage grouse habitat, vegetation management and healthy landscape, erosion, invasive species and scout camping.
The presentation was followed by some general thought for guidance, mainly pointing out the lack of local input for land use decisions and that the Antiquities Act is a “poor landscape management tool for large acreage areas.”
Next came reasons for evaluating a change: Need for more human interaction to enhance a healthy landscape, more active forest management to keep our forests healthy. The commission recognized there are beautiful BLM lands included in the GSENM boundaries that are not benefiting, but being damaged.
They identified their reasons for concern. Kane County wants a process that includes the experts from the BLM and others to help identify the best possible mapping. They want an honest review of what is working and what is not.
With this overview of the proposed resolution, a public hearing was held which lasted almost two hours. The hearing revealed a lot of passion in support of and opposed to,the resolution.
Several opposed the wording in the resolutions that have the Whereas… Many stated the information there was not based on fact. Example: the data has not been checked and is inaccurate.
Regarding tourism, a comment was made that people are waiting to hear about the resolution and how it will affect tourism. Commissioner Dirk Clayson responded that is a scare tactic and not generated here.
Several indicated the federal government has reduced and taken from the state without compensation to the state.
A few asked the commission how much input they have had from the agencies involved.
Some ranchers who were present thanked the commissioners and spoke in favor of the Resolution. “You are representing the silent majority.” They felt the Monument has devastated the ranching community.
When climate change was used as an example of what is happening, a rancher spoke out and said he grazes cattle in Arizona and Utah. Greener pastures are across the border in Arizona because of management here in Utah.
Tom Carter spoke in defense of the Antiquities Act, with the example of the Grand Canyon.
Several urged a no vote, saying the GSENM was just featured on the Travel Channel.
Many indicated they do not want to see GSENM boundaries changed.
For many, there is hope in finding a middle ground with more input from locals, as well as the agencies involved.
All recognized to some degree that tourism drives the local economy. However, a big concern is the possibility of opening up lands to strip mining and other extraction industries (oil, gas, coal).
Commissioner Clayson said, “I have been a champion of tourism. We have worked with the BLM for trail maps, etc. They are good partners.”
Martin Hepworth, from Orderville, said the Monument has not helped the economy of Orderville.
There was a lot of comment and passion not expressed in this article. Everyone cares. Many stated that emotions drive a lot of this, and we need to study and fix the problems and find solutions and recognize the good things the Monument has done. We all care about the environment. We need reasoned research and we need to preserve this gem.
Commissioner Lamont Smith agreed there are some gems in the Monument, but said much of the Monument is unnecessary.
Commissioner Jim Matson said, “We don’t want to get rid of it. What can be done to make it better? We need to get together and work it out.”
Resolution 2017-1 passed unanimously. Many expressed disappointment as they left.
Moving to other business, the commission approved supporting a letter to the Utah Mining Association’s position on a proposed California carbon tax. If passed in California, it would raise the cost of coal – making it unmarketable. Utah produces a lot of coal.