On the way back we stopped at our favorite spring to get a drink of refreshing water, and behind us came the front-end loader, driven by a BLM maintenance man. We chatted, and he said he loved to stop at the same spring, and mentioned how he had been the one who placed a nice flat rock below the spring so people could stand there to get a drink.
We noted how swollen the creek was, and he mentioned that earlier that day he had pulled out a car that had tried to cross the creek and gotten struck. After we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, it struck me that this public servant was exactly what San Juan County commissioners Bruce Adams and Phil Lyman, and Grand County Council member Lynn Jackson would call “the enemy.” Others would go further, treating BLM employees with scorn and even threatening them with violence.
But who are the real “enemies” here? (I hesitate to use that loaded word, but since commissioner Adams chose to portray people who disagree with him as the “enemy,” that’s what I’ll use.) Was it the friendly BLM man, the improver of springs, rescuer of stranded drivers, who lives and works in the community? Or is it the selfish, short-sighted people who think that an accident of birth gives them more rights and more say in what happens to the public lands that belong to all U.S. citizens, who would sell off Grand County and San Juan County for a quick buck to out-of-state developers, miners, and drillers?
Southeastern Utah has scenery and vistas that are unlike any in the world, and people come from all over the world to see them and be inspired. Yet far too many people can’t see beyond their own wallets and would destroy these precious, fragile landscapes just for a short-term gain, and would — to use another phrase they would no doubt recognize — “sell their birthright for a mess of pottage.”
And once the miners, drillers, and developers are done — and all of the money gained goes out of the state, not into the local economy — then what do we have? Strip malls like Anytown, USA, piles of toxic tailings, and poisoned water. Is it really worth it?
—R. Dale Webb