Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Standing Up For What You Believe In

I haven't written on this blog in so long that I guess it would take an issue like this that would compel me to write again.  Those of you that know me well know that I do not take often publicly take sides on any issue.  I think it comes from the fact that I do not like public conflict and that being a history/government teacher I have gotten very use to play devil's advocate, issue informer, etc.  and not taking sides to avoid forming a bias in my students. I state this for those that do not know this about me because I want to make a point that I am only speaking out because I think it's important.

I had heard some about the Bears Ears Monument in the news, but I hadn't thought too much of it.  What else is new in Utah?...Someone considering a national monument....not a new thing. It wasn't resolved, it seemed there were compromises on the table etc.  Then yesterday I saw this post from an old floormate at BYU who lives in Montcello---near the proposed monument. Here are Christa Boswell's own words:

Friends, I need your help. Some of you have come to visit us here in Monticello, and you know that we live in a little paradise on the edge of a pristine National Forest, surrounded by BLM land. We live on the border of the reservation and this public land is full of sacred sites to these tribes. This is our land. This is where we cut the wood to heat our home, this is where we hunt, this is where we bring our children to understand and care for the earth. And this is all in jeopardy. Obama, along with fiercely dishonest and deep-pocketed environmental groups, are trying to use the Antiquities Act to turn 1.9 million acres of San Juan County into a proposed Bears Ears National Monument. There are so many reasons why this is wrong. 1.9 million acres is so far outside the bounds of what the Antiquities Act allows, as borders that "shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected." (Sec 2, Antiquities Act). Utah already has the third greatest amount of acreage under National Monument Status. If this monument is passed, it will destroy our community. Look at what happened to Escalante after the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument was designated. It will completely restrict access for gathering food and fuel, and hundreds if not thousands of miles of roads will be closed. It will become a fee area, and increased tourism will bring more traffic to these sacred sites, which will then fall prey to increased vandalism such as we are seeing at other National Parks and Monuments. The locals DO NOT want this monument. The local tribes DO NOT want this monument. We are protesting our hearts out, but there aren't enough of us. There are only 15,000 of us in San Juan County, and our voices are being silenced. Take a look at this graphic and the sheer size of this proposed monument. And then look at this image that my dear friend Brooke Pehrson has created of our beloved Abajo Mountains. Please sign this petition. Please share with your friends and ask them to sign this petition. Please educate yourself on this issue, and contact your representatives to let them know that you do NOT support this monument. The federal government does not need to designate this land. It is beautiful, it is well-loved and cared for, and it is essential to our community. NO Bears Ears National Monument!
So I did what she suggested.....I did some research.

I found a video from AYL--At Your Leisure, a local wilderness/outdoor program.  They did a lot of interviews that showed everyone's opinion on the issue.  I really wanted to find out the other side--it seems like their biggest issues are the environment and protecting burial grounds more than the current BLM status does.

Then I found this video on Facebook from Senator Mike Lee's page.  This was a call-in town hall meeting that he did.  Someone from the Grand Staircase-Esclante called in  and explained what had happened to them when it was made a national monument.  The other thing that surprised me from that video was that according to the Senator, no local elected officials supported the Bears Ears Monument.

I went looking for Representative Bishop's compromise information so that I understood that as well--I really wonder where that will go. It might solve it somewhat--not sure with the information that I can find on the local news station websites.

I got to thinking about where I live--in the Uintah Basin---there is a portion of the Ute tribe here and people that would consider themselves locals that don't live here, just like in San Juan.  This would cause a lot of tension here if people really didn't want a national monument here.  Now, I don't see a monument designation happening at the present--but it would divide this community, just as it has San Juan.

This is why I decided to go ahead and make a decision.  I stand with San Juan locals.  People who do not live there should not decide what happens.  The protections in place already are plenty, and this is a large amount of land for the federal government to take more control of.  It also does feel like a losing cause--so as a result I signed the petition with the hope that it will show the White House that people do not support this.  President Obama holds the ultimate decision--so it seems to make the most sense. I encourage you to do the same!

Sign the petition here 

the picture Christa referred to

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