Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is under attack!
The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was declared on September 18, 1996 by president Bill Clinton under the Antiquities Act. The Monument was somewhat controversial at the time for preventing exploitation of a large reserve of coal on the newly protected landed, and some people decried the Monument as federal government overreach with negative economic impacts on the economy of its native Garfield County.
Twenty years later, these opponents at the federal, state and local still want to see Grand Staircase vastly downsized, citing concerns about agriculture, decrease in local school enrollment and mining rights as proof of economic downturn due to the Monument. The only problem is that these concerns have turned out to be false rhetoric spun to justify the desire of our state and national politicians to dramatically reduce Escalante by a whopping 74% in order to strip the land for coal and fossil fuels. Arguments against the monument disregard the heaping evidence that Grand Staircase has in fact been great for business in Garfield County and is supported by a majority of Utahns.
The Utah State Legislature passed HCR 12 in February to ask Trump and newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, to greatly reduce the size of the National Monument. Garfield County officials are now rushing to pass a similar Resolution 2017-2, which is scheduled for a public hearing on March 13th at 11:00am in the Commission Chambers of the Garfield County Courthouse in Panguitch. Garfield County residents need our help preventing the proposed reduction of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument!
CALL TO ACTION
- Write and mail a letter to Secretary Zinke, Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20240. Please upload your letter to this Google Drive when you are finished (and see examples of other letters).
- Call or email Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to ask him to protect the current boundaries of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. (202) 208-7351, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @RyanZinke.
- Show up to the public hearing on the Garfield County Resolution at the Garfield County Courthouse in Panguitch on March 13th, 11:00a.
- Call the Garfield County Commissioners before they vote on a a county resolution to drastically cut the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Call (435) 359-4489 to be connected to commissioners Taylor, Tebbs and Pollock and tell them to stand up for Utah’s treasured public lands!
- Sign this petition to the Garfield County Commissioners asking them to vote NO on the resolution to greatly reduce the size of the Escalante National Monument, posted along with plenty of other great petitions on our Petitions, Petitions! page.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Not sure what to write? See the talking points below. Not sure how to write it? Check out these tips.
- SHARE this with other Utahns!
- Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has indicated support to reduce the boundaries of Grand Staircase despite the fact that no presidential administration has even decreased a National Monument before.
- The current boundaries of the Monument have already undergone intensive study through the National Biological Survey where current boundaries were determined appropriate and necessary to protect important artifacts and conserve valuable natural resources preserves, including protection of Native American and Mormon Settler heritage
- There has been continued access for hunting, fishing and grazing within the Monument. In fact, despite concerns about agriculture, 96.4% of the Monument remains open for grazing, with only 17 allotments partially or entirely unavailable (some of which were voluntarily relinquished due to drought conditions and others were purchased by the Grand Canyon Trust at higher than market value). Grazing trends have changed very little since the Monument was created.
- Through the management plan, there has been community and stakeholder involvement in the management through the Monument Advisory Committee
- The Monument is touted as one of Utah’s prime attractions and is prominently on the websites for Escalante and Boulder Utah Chamber of Commerce and the official travel site for Utah
- Tourism Taxes for Garfield and Kane counties, the two counties that are home to the Grand Staircase, totaled nearly 4.6 million dollars this past year, a sharp increase from previous years. The Escalante Visitor Center also saw a 51% increase in visitation from 2015 to 2016 (BLM, 2017).
- School and Institutional Trust Lands within the Monument were exchanged for federal lands elsewhere in Utah, plus equivalent mineral rights and $50 million cash by an act of Congress, the Utah Schools and Lands Exchange Act of 1998, so that no education funding would be lost due to the creation of the Monument.
- Polls consistently show that the majority of Utahans embrace the Monument
- Republicans for Environment Protection’s 2011 poll of registered Utah voters showed that 69% of respondents believed the Grand Staircase is good for Utah, while 62% felt that the Monument is a significant economic benefit.
- Pew Charitable Trust (2016) found that twice as many Utahns describe the Grand Staircase as a good, rather than a bad thing for Utah (52% to 23%).
- Colorado College Conservation in the West 2016 poll found that the monument designation was good for Utah (45% to 25%).
- Polls indicate 70% of Utahns believe the Grand Staircase is good for Utah’s Tourism industry.
For more information visit local agencies such as SUWA and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Partners