Grand Staircase-Escalante in the spotlight

  • Sheer sandstone walls grace Upper Gulch section of Escalante Canyons

    Jerry Stintz
  When President Clinton created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah two years ago, environmentalists broke out the champagne, while many locals moped (HCN, 4/14/97). A proposed management plan for the monument has the two groups in each others' shoes.

"I thought the people doing the plan really did a good job," Kane County Commissioner Joe Judd says of the 15-member planning team assembled by the Bureau of Land Management. His county plans to build a new monument headquarters and two interpretive centers to pull in agency and tourist dollars. "We're trying to make lemonade out of the lemon we've been given," he says.

Tom Price of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance isn't so pleased. "It's got some good stuff in it," he concedes. "This is not your father's BLM." But he says the plan doesn't include enough wilderness and is too lenient with ranchers. The agency's plans to build trailheads and other visitor facilities along the remote Burr Trail are comparable to "Lewis and Clark hitting a 7-11," he adds.

The proposal, released in November in the form of a draft environmental impact statement, offers five management options for the 1.9 million-acre monument. All would protect most of the monument as "primitive" areas similar to wilderness, and confine vehicles to existing roads. New facilities are targeted for surrounding towns. Says monument planner Jerry Meredith, "You won't find campgrounds or visitors centers in the monument."

The BLM is taking its options to the public at 13 meetings this winter in Utah, Colorado, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Washington, D.C. The public comment period ends Feb. 12, and the agency hopes to have a final management plan in place by September 1999.

You can find the draft environmental impact statement on the web at, order a copy on paper or CD ROM, or send comments to: Pete Wilkins - Team Leader, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, 337 South Main St., Suite 010, Cedar City, UT 84720 (435/865-5100).

" Greg Hanscom

Crystal Mountain

plans to grow

Ski resort collector Boyne USA is laying the groundwork for a massive makeover of Crystal Mountain in Washington's Cascade Mountains. Boyne, also the owner of Big Sky in Montana (HCN, 3/31/97), plans to pump $40 million into the resort to keep Seattle-area skiers from fleeing the state to visit other resorts. Improvements include 10 new lifts, expanded parking, and upgraded restaurant facilities. Crystal Mountain representative Kelly Graham envisions a "world-class experience for day-use skiers." A local group called the Crystal Conservation Coalition worries about the "outrageous scale" of the development plans. They think impacts on water quality, wildlife habitat, backcountry opportunities, and nearby Mount Rainier National Park need to be carefully studied.

The scoping period for the environmental impact statement that must accompany the development is under way. Send written comments before Jan. 15, 1999, to Forest Supervisor, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 21905 64th Avenue West, Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043-2278. For more information contact Larry Donovan with the Forest Service at 425/744-3403 or l.donovan/r6pnw\[email protected]

" Stanley Yung

Adopt a stream

Driving the West's highways, you can't help but notice the blue "Adopt a Highway" signs announcing who's agreed to pick up trash beside the road. Now, the Colorado Water Conservation Board has started a similar program to help monitor stream flows. The agency is responsible for maintaining adequate water levels in 1,300 of the most fish-friendly streams in the state, but staff can't keep an eye on every stream. So in 1996, they contacted Colorado Trout Unlimited to help put together a volunteer stream-monitoring effort. Thanks to a grant from Great Colorado Outdoors and matching funds from Trout Unlimited and the Silver Trout Foundation, the pilot program "Adopt an Instream Flow" is under way. Volunteers act as the "eyes and ears' of the agency - checking gauges and alerting agency staff when flows are low. Program director Jeff Baessler says he's looking for energetic groups to volunteer for this new initiative.

If your group is interested in adopting a stream, contact Jeff Baessler at 303/866-3441 or [email protected]

" Stanley Yung

Squawking gets

squawfish renamed

The squawfish is about to be rechristened. The Names of Fishes Committee of the American Fisheries Society has recommended that all squawfish be renamed pikeminnows. Although the committee is reluctant to change common names for fear of causing confusion, it made an exception this time because "names should not violate the tenets of good taste." The committee determined that the squawfish probably was never intended to be a derogatory reference to Native American women; in fact, it's more likely that the term evolved from a mispronunciation of squawkfish - the sound the fish makes when it's taken out of the river. Regardless of its origins, many Native American groups like the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission find it offensive today, calling the decision "long overdue."

To get a fish renamed, write Joseph S. Nelson, Chair of the Names of Fish Committee, Department of Biology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9.

*Stanley Yung

The last decade has been a good one for the West's land trusts. A census conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Land Trust Alliance reveals that the number of land trusts that serve the Rocky Mountain states has risen from 20 to 52, and the Southwest shows similar growth. Nationwide, these private nonprofits, whose primary purpose is to conserve land, have protected a total of 4.7 million acres through conservation easements and land purchases.

For more information, contact Land Trust Alliance, 1319 F St. N.W., Ste. 501, Washington, D.C., 20004-1106, (202/638-4725).
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