In early May, Department of the Interior Secretary Zinke visited Utah for a “listening tour” in an effort to gain local perspective on the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Regardless of his intent, many felt Zinke spent inadequate time listening to monument supporters. This was certainly the case in Grand Staircase-Escalante, where he neglected to meet with the Escalante Boulder Chamber of Commerce or other monument advocates. Instead, a majority of his time was spent in the company with those holding anti-monument sentiment - those who would like to see boundary reductions for the sake of accessing coal currently protected under the monument designation.
Blinded by the potential for coal mines, government officials in Utah have failed to see the benefits the monument provides to the community at large. Let's make sure Secretary Zinke sees the true value of these public lands!
Rep. Mike Noel, U.S. Senator Hatch, and county commissioners project the narrative that the economy has suffered from the presence of Grand Staircase. In reality, the monument has continued to drive job creation, sustain property values, and encourage investment. Among those most vocal of advocates are local business owners, who have witnessed the positive benefits of the monument firsthand.
From a scientific perspective, if Grand Staircase-Escalante were to be reduced in size, significant fossils could be destroyed or go unfound. Artifacts found within the monument have proven to be the only evidence in our hemisphere of terrestrial vertebrate fauna. These findings emphasize the special importance in protecting such a profound area that holds scientific discoveries that have aided in piecing parts of our evolutionary history together.
As the public comment period deadline looms for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, now is the time to ensure your voice is heard. We call on Secretary Zinke to leave Grand Staircase-Escalante as it is and allow it to continue providing economic growth to surrounding communities and to protect scientific artifacts yet to be found.
You can read more about the Grand Staircase-Escalante and the economic benefits of the monument here.