Avoiding the ‘Moab model’

 

We just returned from our annual sojourn to southern Utah, visiting Canyonlands, a portion of the new Bears Ears National Monument and our beloved Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. And we couldn’t disagree more with Jim Stiles’ claims that national monument designation harms the land and nearby communities (“Help for Bears Ears?HCN, 5/1/17). In the nearly 30 years we’ve been going to the Grand Staircase, since before it was designated a monument, we’ve seen a slow, steady and welcome growth in Escalante and Boulder, as these towns adapt to increased visitation. What we have not seen is the absolutely overwhelming recreational development and impacts associated with motorized and non-motorized recreation that have assaulted the non-protected BLM lands surrounding Moab. Talking to locals from the Boulder-Escalante area, everyone agreed that what they don’t want to see is a repeat of the “Moab model” in the Grand Staircase-Escalante region. Careful land stewardship and thoughtful engagement with local communities can preserve the lands we all love while ensuring that surrounding communities benefit.

Sally Miller and Roland Knapp
Lee Vining, California