As your three new members took the seats of retiring council members Baird, Conrad and Graham, one of your first acts was to reverse an appointment to the Grand County Planning Commission made by the previous council. Your weak rationale for setting this precedent was, I believe, superficial and deceptive.
Now, as one of your second acts, you have vehemently opposed a proposal put forth by the Outdoor Industry Association to protect the Greater Canyonlands area. Your letter to the President of the United States endorses the resource management plan which reflects the policy and priorities of the Bush Administration. And it implicitly endorses mining and processing of potash, which would be a huge industrial operation on the very lip of Canyonlands National Park, for a product which will be shipped to China for fertilizer. This drill-and-dig industry will be of profit to a foreign potash firm, K2O, but its benefit — if any, to the citizens of Grand County would be short-lived and would result in long-lasting destruction of the area.
The reason President Clinton finally resorted to use of the Antiquities Act was his frustration in dealing with obstructive local governments in southern Utah. He knew that designating a national monument was the only way to protect public lands from new leases for mineral extraction, and that it would not deny access or preclude any activities, whether motorized or non-motorized.
Your letter noted that “the OIA does not represent all recreation business and industry in our region.” Does your position purport to represent all the citizens of Grand County? Is it necessary for me to point out that “public” lands belong to the public of the United States, not to our state or counties? Finally, your letter calls for a collaborative process, but the council itself did not engage in a collaborative process. You did not bother to hold a public hearing or to survey residents on the OIA proposal. Had you done so, you would have learned that there are deep divisions of opinion. There is no consensus here.
Just as you set a bad precedent by impulsively overturning a recent decision by the previous council, you should surely reconsider taking any position in this controversy. Sometimes the wisest course of action one can take is no action at all.