Trump’s executive order on national monuments orders Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review about 2 dozen national monuments — from Hawaii to Maine — in the view of undoing or reducing them. This order came at the urging of our own Utah congressional delegation, particularly Senator Hatch and Representative Bishop, in the hopes of rescinding Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) and dramatically reducing Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). If our congressional representatives oppose our national monument designations, then the national monuments debate must be a partisan one, right? Actually, no.
According to a recent Colorado College survey, 60% of Utahns want to see our existing national monuments kept in place. 70% of Utahns agree that the GSENM has had a positive effect on Utah tourism and on the state’s wildlife and environment and Utahns believe GSENM is good for the state by a 2 to 1 margin. All of our congressional representatives have stated that our public lands need protection. Rep. Rob Bishop himself proposed protection of an area of Bears Ears in his Public Lands Initiative that is nearly identical in size and shape to the current Monument.
With 67% of Utahns identifying as conservationists, defending public lands can hardly be declared a partisan issue. Although we sometimes use different words or believe in different approaches, Utah’s Republicans and Democrats actually mostly agree on the importance of our public lands to our cultural identity, heritage, recreational habits, quality of life, domestic and international appeal and spirituality, which is why 84% of us would like to see improved access to our public lands.
This broad support for public lands and conservation stems from long-standing Republican values dating back to the greatest conservationist of all time, Theodore Roosevelt, the ‘conservationist president’, author of the Antiquities Act and founder of 230 million acres of public land. Roosevelt set the stage for a long history of conservation acts and values in the Republican party that have been reflected in the administrations of great Republican environmentalist presidents like Ronald Reagan.
Democrats also identify with the conservation values of Republican tradition, as well as with newer Democratic principals about environmental stewardship, to protect wildlife, natural surroundings and human health.
If people on both sides of the aisle largely agree about the tremendous blessing that public lands are to our state — that they represent our heritage, form a large piece of our cultural identity, provide us with beautiful spaces to enjoy and recreate in, and influence our lifestyles, our spirituality even sometimes our livelihoods, then we can find ways to work together to protect them. But we must abandon highly partisan rhetoric. We must be willing to compromise at times and support solutions that work even if they are not our top choice. We must abandon falsehoods. And we must speak up about protecting public lands.
On public lands, we can find common ground — perhaps millions of acres of them! But only if we work hard to support them.
CALL TO ACTION
Show your support for Utah’s public lands in the face of Trump’s executive orders on national monuments this week. Let Secretary Zinke and the Department of the Interior know that Utah supports the protection of our public lands and national monuments! Tell Interior Secretary Zinke why monuments make Utah and all of America great. You may choose some of the talking points below to assist you with your calls.
- Call and leave your comments at the Dept of Interior, Office of the Secretary: (202) 208-7351, dial “0” to leave a comment
- Call and leave your comments at the BLM Public Land Inquiry Line (202) 912-7780. The BLM is a division of the Interior Department. This phone number has been set up to take public lands comments, and calls here will be counted.
- Don’t feel like calling? Then write. Write an email to Secretary Zinke at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet him at @SecretaryZinke. Or go old school and write a snailmail letter to the National Park Service, another division of the Interior Department which will assist with Zinke’s review:
Michael Reynolds, Acting Director of the National Park Service1849 C Street NWWashington, DC 20240
Monuments make us great
Not just some of us, but ALL of us. National monuments tell the story of all Americans. They honor our heritage. They create economic opportunities in communities where opportunity may not exist. They give our communities beautiful scenery and landscapes to enjoy and recreate in. They feed our souls. We find meaning and refuge in them. We access hunting and outdoor activity in them. We glean a cultural identity from them. We draw people from across the world to visit and appreciate them. We earn billions of dollars from them.
Monuments make Utah’s economy great
Public lands are a critical piece of Utah’s present and future economy.
- Tourism across Utah, including tourism in our national monuments, brings in nearly $8 billion annually, with nearly $7 billion coming from domestic and international visitors — that means tourism is the largest export business in Utah
- Every year, the outdoor recreation industry brings Utah $12 billion in consumer spending, $3.6 billion in wages and salaries, $856 million in state and local tax revenue and provides 122,000 jobs
- The push by some elected officials in Utah to rescind Bears Ears National Monument designation and dramatically decrease Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument directly led $75 million in annual losses for Utahns due to the exit of Outdoor Retailer and Bicycle Retailer, with more potential losses on the horizon
- Studies show that regions surrounding national monuments have seen continued growth or improvement in employment, personal income and increased per-capita income
- Rural counties in the West with more than 30 percent protected public lands saw jobs increase by 345% over areas without protected lands
- The State of Utah does not have the funding to manage public lands on its own and would either go bankrupt or be forced to sell and lease public lands to private entities if these lands are transferred to the state
- Nearly half of the nation’s national parks and 4 out of 5 of Utah’s national parks were originally protected as national monuments
- Recent studies show registered voters in each of seven Mountain West states, including all the Four Corners states, want to keep existing national monument designations by a margin of 80% to 13%
- 60% of Utahns want to keep existing national monuments in place
Fun facts about Bears Ears National Monument
San Juan County is at the center of the Bears Ears debate, expressing the loudest hostility toward the monument.
- San Juan County has a population of 15,000. 52% is Navajo.
- 90% of Navajo support the monument.
- These Navajo are rural Utahns from San Juan County (ie: locals)
- The Navajo Nation tribal council voted unanimously to support the monument, dozens of Native nations in the National Congress of American Indians support the monument, as do 6 out of 7 Navajo chapter houses in Utah
- The Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition here in Utah, which proposed the monument designation, is an unprecedented coming together of tribes around a common vision
- It was local Utahns who proposed and lead up years of lobbying for the Bears Ears National Monument designation
- Attacks on the monument designation ignore local input by ignoring that these tribal members are local Utahns who comprise a majority of San Juan County
- Zinke has stated a strong commitment to respecting and partnering with tribes, yet he has not met with Utah tribes yet
- Each of Utah’s congressional delegates and our governor has stated that our public lands need protecting
- Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative also proposed protection for Bears Ears within nearly identical borders
- Bears Ears is the first National Monument in the country created expressly to honor Tribes and their cultural history, knowledge and ability to manage the monument and to heal our common history
- Monument opposition is a betrayal of the effort to honor tribes and bring healing
Giving rural Utah a voice in our national monuments means standing with Bears Ears.
Fun facts about Grand Staircase National Monument
Grand Staircase National Monument has made Garfield and Kane Counties great.
- 70% of Utahns agree that the GSENM has had a positive effect on Utah tourism and on the state’s wildlife and environment
- Utahns believe GSENM is good for the state by a 2 to 1 margin
- Studies show that between 1996 and 2008 in the GSE region: population grew by 8%, jobs grew by 38%, real personal income grew by 40%, real per capita income grew by 30%
- Studies show that between 1996 and 2008 in the GSE region: services jobs grew by over 2,000 jobs to make a 59%, non-services shrank by 146 jobs or 11%, and traditional commodity jobs (agriculture, mining, timber) held steady with pre-1996 trends
- Animal grazing rights have remained almost unchanged since before the monument’s designation, with 94.6% of the Monument still open for grazing
- The Escalante Visitor Center saw a 51% increase in visitation from 2015 to 2016 (BLM, 2017)
- Tourism tax dollars have increased 21% in Kane County and 10% in Garfield county in 2016 alone
Boosting the economy and job creation in Utah means protecting our national monuments and their current boundaries.