Yesterday Trump signed the executive order on national monuments ordering Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review 19 specific national monuments created since 1996 over 100,000 acres, plus any other monuments at Zinke’s discretion, in the view of undoing or altering them. Secretary Zinke has praised the order, saying it is a way to “make the people have a voice” and to “return control to the people”. Funny thing is that the creation of the monuments was exactly that — giving people across Utah and, in an unprecedented way, our Tribal Utahns — a voice in our public lands and wrest control over them from partisan debate of the present and future. Why? Because the truth is that:
Monuments make us great
Let me repeat that. 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.
Secretary Zinke responded to the executive order yesterday with a Tweet stating that, “The Interior is the steward of America’s public lands. Part of being a good steward is being a good neighbor and being a good listener. In the Trump Administration, we listen and then we act.” And, “Finally, rural America has a voice again”. Except that ‘rural America’ is precisely who fought tirelessly for years to propose, lobby for, plan and manage Bears Ears National Monument. It is locals in San Juan County, UT, who
One focus of the order is reviewing the economics of national monument designations in the U.S. and particularly in Utah. Monuments make us great by providing rural Utahns with jobs, increased property values, increased personal income, increased income per-capita, and increased tax revenue from out-of-state visitors to improve Utah’s communities (see talking points below). Undoing or altering monument boundaries takes away the livelihood of thousands of Utahns and destroys businesses and economic opportunities in rural areas that otherwise would have none. That’s why 200 business owners in Garfield and Kane Counties have already written to Secretary Zinke in support of maintaining the current boundaries of the Grand Staircase National Monument.
It’s time for Secretary Zinke to hear from you.
CALL TO ACTION
- Reply to Secretary Zinke’s Tweeted statement on Trump’s national monuments executive orders. Let him know what Utah’s local voices sound like. Remind him that our tribal community members ARE rural locals and deserve to be heard like everybody else. Tell Zinke why monuments make us great. Let Zinke know you are from Utah and use the hashtag #mymonuments and tag @action_utah so we can all like and retweet your posts.
- Like and retweet other people’s comments to Secretary Zinke’s tweeted statement
- Remember to also send your daily #mymonuments tweet to Secretary Zinke with your pictures to tell him why monuments make us great. Like and retweet other people’s tweets from our #mymonuments Tweet Storm. Use tags: #mymonuments @SecretaryZinke @action_utah
- Not on Twitter? Email Secretary Zinke instead. You can read Zinke’s statement in this DOI press release. Learn how to share your personal story with Zinke here.
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 is 52% 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.