Bears Ears is just a land grab…

Mr. Harry Holland’s op-ed (Feb. 16 edition of The Times-independent) referred to Bishop’s PLI, and similarities of boundaries to the current Bears Ears National Monument (BENM). Boundaries are just one irritant. San Juan County, by and large, was not happy with the multi-county PLI. It planned to trade SITLA lands to the Uintah Basin, in return for a percentage of tax revenues, but that does not provide jobs to San Juan. It was a poor idea that would not raise San Juan from the bottom economic slot in the state.

Such a gigantic monument was only a solution President Obama used to further restrict land use. His environmental cronies have preyed upon the public lands of the West, using multi-million dollar campaigns and media spin looking for or inventing problems to justify such actions.

And you wonder why a line was drawn in the sand? I’m glad we finally have Western states with congressmen who listen to their constituents. Similar ill-conceived extreme actions in Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii, California, Maine and Arizona are still negatively reverberating. Such flagrant acts are contrary to federal laws, and the BENM is just one of many festering wounds.

The Diné Coalition started to unravel last fall when several hand-picked Native leaders were voted out of office. Top down, hand-picked leaders do not, and will never represent a whole tribe, especially when members never had a chance to learn about, nor vote on such a designation. The BENM campaign relied excessively on the power of money donated by “a few already wealthy individuals” and “big money donors” including The William-Flora Hewlett Foundation, Wyss Foundation, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Wilburforce Foundation.

Rural Americans, Native and Anglo alike, who live and depend upon this rural landscape in San Juan County have been good stewards. Like urban residents, we too, are upset when looting happens in our neighborhoods. We don’t condone it, nor do we initiate it. As one of the poorest counties in the nation, we resent this discriminatory act that further curtails our chances of economic success. Rural states need productive multi-use sections of land to support water, power and road infrastructure, as well as schools, hospitals and other facilities. National monuments do not improve these situations. They basically provide minimum wage jobs — which Moab well knows about.

In contrast to Holland’s assertion, last year, Garfield County was declared a state of emergency because of fallout from the national monument.

The federal government does not have a good track record in paying their bills nor in dealing with rural people, or even maintaining National Parks. Another monument in Utah only causes more restrictions, more vandalism and mistrust. We cannot jeopardize important services and education by curtailing multiple use of the land. Nor can tourists afford to drive to this isolated area, without fuel.

—Janet Wilcox