Managing the monument: The devil is in the details

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to a feature story.

If it survives expected legal challenges, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will in all likelihood stop the industrialization of the Kaiparowits Plateau. While the proclamation creating the monument did not take away Andalex's right to mine its rich coal fields, federal land managers acknowledge that the company will probably not be able to obtain rights-of-way for roads and utilities to the remote site.

Environmentalists say Andalex would be wise to follow the lead of PacifiCorp, the only other company holding leases in the area. Just days before the president created the monument, PacifiCorp officials announced the company had struck a deal with the Interior Department to trade out its leases for other federal property.

Although the mine question may be settled soon, how the land should be managed is not. Clinton's team left plenty of space for that debate when it drew up plans for the monument designation.

The new monument will be the first in the country to be managed not by the National Park Service but by the current landlord, the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM will continue to oversee it, with grazing, hunting and other traditional uses of the land remaining unchanged. That should smooth things out some with locals, says Don Banks with the Utah state office of the BLM in Salt Lake City.

"I'd be lying to say that this isn't going to be a tremendous challenge," says Banks. "But we have our people in place, and we have pretty good relations with the local governments and private communities."

How the BLM balances protection of the area's vast natural and cultural resources with traditional users and growing numbers of backpackers, mountain bikers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts, will be decided in a three-year public process concluding with a management plan. Clinton emphasized that local and state involvement will be essential to the process.

Environmentalists said they hope the eventual plan will downplay the need for new roads and facilities for tourists, leaving it much as it is today, a remote, difficult-to-reach desert wilderness. In fact, they still hope to win wilderness designation for much of the monument. That angers Kane County attorney Colin Winchester. "If the replacement for the mine is tourism, then why do they want to take away that, too?"

The BLM's Banks says monument status will force the agency to beef up its presence in the area, and assess how to improve its limited visitor facilities to accommodate more people.

The proclamation explicitly says there will be no federal reserved water right attached to the monument; and it calls for all school-trust lands contained within the boundaries to be swapped for federal holdings of comparable value elsewhere.

Utah Rep. Bill Orton, the state's only Democratic member of Congress, said that with so many concessions the president is left with a "hollow monument."

But for environmentalists, stopping coal development was the big prize. Said Ken Rait of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, "Ask Andalex how hollow this monument is."

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • EVENTS AND ANNUAL FUND COORDINATOR
    The Events and Annual Fund Coordinator is responsible for managing and coordinating the Henry's Fork Foundation's fundraising events for growing the membership base, renewing and...
  • EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Position Description: The Education Director is the primary leader of Colorado Canyons Association's (CCA) education programs for students and adults on the land and rivers...
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...