Perhaps Mr. Binyon should do some research regarding his assertions. Adopting the process for managing the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument does not support the creation of Greater Canyonlands. He asserts that examining the Grand Staircase process will demonstrate that BLM would act in the public’s best interests, would not close roads, and would listen and act in accordance with the needs and desires of those people affected. Yet, BLM’s management of the Grand Staircase Monument has displeased and angered the impacted public.
The Grand Staircase Monument was enacted in 1996. In its draft management plan for the monument, BLM’s preferred alternative would close 1,258 miles of road out of 2,176 miles existing, leaving only about 818 miles open. Finally, after significant litigation and cost, in March 2013, 17 years after creation of the monument, the federal court ordered the United States to acknowledge rights acquired by Utah and Kane County over many roads, some of which were included in the monument, and the remainder were included in BLM management authority. The court found that most all roads designated by Kane County and Utah in this area were roads that had been accessed for public purposes, including hunting, sightseeing, travel to places, camping, and other purposes. Thus, these are all roads that lead to somewhere, they are not “cow trails or roads that lead to nowhere,” and the public is entitled to continued use of these roads.
Also with the Grand Staircase, President Clinton mandated that grazing rights continue as existed at the time of monument creation, but BLM was found to have consciously participated in a scheme to preclude or limit those grazing rights.
In 2010, a report on the progress of the monument management advised that more cooperation needs to occur between BLM and local, affected people. A study of the impacts of the Grand Staircase Monument demonstrates that the people affected have significantly lessened their trust in federal agencies, particularly BLM, because the cooperation, openness and procedure has not complied with the desires of the most impacted public.
We agree, oil rigs and mining are not acceptable. We, however, do not need to create Greater Canyonlands, because BLM already has authority to limit or preclude these activities with or without national monument designation.
BLM’s management of the Grand Staircase Monument has not been successful, has not been satisfactory, and does not justify creation of Greater Canyonlands.
—Brenda and Dirk Sprunt
Moab and North Salt Lake City