FROM THE UTAH SHARED ACCESS ALLIANCE: We JUST got wind of this rally. We apologize for the short notice. We are hearing that a monument announcement may be coming this week. We predicted this back in the early part of 2016...we hope to be wrong on this one.
The time is now to voice your concerns about a Bears Ears national-monument proclamation that appears to be imminent.
Monday, December 19th, 2016
2:30pm State Capitol building
This afternoon in Salt Lake City, people will gather on the steps and in the rotunda to advocate responsible use by holding signs, speaking with press, etc. Apparently it will be followed by a counter-protest full of Native American and non-native monument supporters.
Let's show them that many people of all ethnicities challenge the need for our president to unilaterally proclaim everything from the Navajo Reservation up to Hurrah Pass as a national monument. It's an opportunity to demonstrate our passion, but also our reason, as alternatives like simply improving BLM's existing management or passing the Utah Public Lands Initiative make it completely unecessary for the president to proclaim a national monument that's long on acreage and short on local support.
Granted, instead of the 1.9 million-acre boundary proposed by the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition (which is funded by wilderness groups), the administration seems poised to go with a 1.3 million-acre boundary based on NCA's proposed by the Utah Public Lands Initiative. Unfortunately, the monument proclamation wouldn't include the PLI's language requiring land managers to relocate any problemmatic routes rather than closing them outright, nor the benefits outside of Bears Ears such as recreation zones and the Red Rock Country OHV Trail, not to mention a limitation on future national-monument proclamations in the affected counties. In short, a 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears monument would be yet another overreach that makes Antiquities Act reform all the more pressing.
Wilderness groups complain that wilderness bills haven't been passing in recent years. Well, for one thing, land is finite, so they should expect the rate of new designations to dimish. What's more, wilderness groups have begun designing wilderness bills to fail! The bills have been inflated in order give the administration political cover to proclaim a monument. In the case of the Bears Ears, the wilderness groups exploited part of the Public Lands Initiative bill to rationalize another monstrous monument. The wilderness groups had no intention of following through with the legislative track, but they went through the motions to run out the clock. Specifically, the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition pledged to provide their proposed "co-management" language to congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz, but on November 30th BEIC finally said that it wouldn't give the "co-management" language unless the congressmen agree to a 1.9 million-acre boundary and several other demands that were above and beyond what could be provided, even by a monument. The administration had encouraged BEIC to give the PLI a chance, but it didn't do enough to compel BEIC to meaningfully negotiate. While BEIC was all too willing to be a pawn for wilderness groups, the systemic problem is that the Antiquities Act continues to undermine the legislative process, and allows uncompromising groups like SUWA to coopt the traditional conservation lobby in D.C.
Two decades after the proclamation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the PLI has shown a better way of achieving conservation without losing recreation and economic opportunities. Another monument would destroy the collaborative process for decades to come. At least we can say that we tried to prevent this breakdown of negotiations, which is why it's simportant to show up at today's rally.