Cedar City has an interstate, an airport, conference facilities and Southern Utah University, Meredith says. And, it has real estate.
"We needed 6,000 square feet of space and 18 houses for employees right away," says Meredith. Even Kanab would have been marginal, he says.
To Matson, the BLM's decision was "a slap in the face. It said that they didn't want to live with us."
It also said Kane County would, for the next three years, lose out on 18 high-paying government jobs.
If you designate it, will they come?
Driving the 60 miles east from Kanab to Big Water, pop. 350, which lies within a few miles of Lake Powell, I am struck by the immensity of the new monument. Its southern edge along the highway is a series of rugged, sparsely vegetated cliffs that extend as far as the eye can see.
The last protrusion is the Kaiparowits Plateau, which looms like the prow of a giant ship behind the town of Big Water. It is also the place where Andalex had planned to mine coal.
Big Water, with its dirt roads and boat-storage yards facing the highway, missed out on the mining boom, but its mayor, Gerry Rankin, says she is eager to capitalize on the new monument.
It isn't a Grand Canyon or a Lake Powell, she says, "but it's got a rough, difficult beauty, you might call it."
For Big Water to attract tourists, though, Rankin says it needs the BLM to develop some roads into the monument so that people can sightsee. The town also needs a sewer system, she says. Without one, it has been unable to attract hotels or other large commercial enterprises. The carloads of tourists now passing Big Water on their way to Lake Powell have little reason to stop.
Joe Judd says he doubts the monument will give Big Water much of a boost. The southern portion of the monument, he says, is "like your big toe; there's nothing sexy about it. You won't see anything that you can't find in two-thirds of the rest of the state."
There are few roads into the monument from the south, Judd notes, and most are nearly impassable for all but skilled four-wheel drivers. The people who come and want to see the new monument will have to stay around the outskirts or risk getting stuck or lost. Either way, they are a liability, in his view.
Judd recently jetted to Washington, D.C., with Garfield County Commissioner Louise Liston to ask Congress for $575,000 to help his county cope with everything from a stretched police force to growing numbers of lost and injured hikers, and overflowing garbage bins. Liston asked for $900,000 and an extra $2 million for road maintenance and improvement in the monument.
By asking for so much money, Judd seems to contradict his prediction that the monument will generate little interest. But early readings indicate that tourists are chomping at the bit. The BLM offices in Kanab, Escalante and Salt Lake City say they are swamped with thousands of requests for monument information and maps. A Web site put on the internet by the town of Escalante's Chamber of Commerce received 2,000 hits during February alone.
"We want all the tourism we can get," admits Matson, "but we don't want a Moab (Utah)-type situation," where hordes of visitors have failed to lift family income and strained public services to the breaking point.