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for people who care about the West

Utah's culture war continues

  Dear HCN,


Paul Larmer's story on the president's new monument (HCN, 4/14/97) is a pretty unfortunate piece of work, reprinting the same tired and unsupported information that has been circulating around the Intermountain West for the past few months. Most of this folklore is, of course, lies created by the extractive industries and swallowed by ignorant members of impoverished county commissions and town councils. The real story is in this creation of misinformation by corporations and the willingness of small towns to swallow it.


One hears about millions of dollars almost coming into Kanab and other towns, but where are the figures? And what would the costs have been like? Interviews with people like Roger Holland who were Andalex contract employees and who owned leases, without disclosing those relevant matters, are unconscionable.


How can HCN print Louise Liston's sentimental stuff about cowboys without a serious assessment of what damage cattle and cowboys have done to the region? Her most passionate concern seems to be that backpackers have sex and take drugs in those canyons.


Everyone wasn't hopping mad when Clinton proclaimed the monument. Indeed, a great many people living in southern Utah didn't want to be living in coalhaul city USA, and are tired of the perfectly ridiculous notion that cowboy culture is the indigenous culture of the region.


This monument is and has been the site of a cultural war. It has been fought on one side by people, who because of their ignorance and hard-line anti-environmental views, were guaranteed to lose. Those losers, from Orrin Hatch in the Senate, to Rep. Jim Hansen, to the county commissioners like Liston, down to the mayor of Big Water, have said and done reprehensible things. I pity the federal land managers who have to deal with the prejudice and ignorance of these people, under the rubric of showing a new sensitivity.


Michael Cohen


Cedar City, Utah