Letter to the Editor: State Park, Not National Monument
Do not add more power to the federal government for this area.
I am a Carbon County native with lots of Emery County roots. In the summer of 1963, after a year of college at CEU with plans to become a civil engineer, I was so lucky to get a job with the Price District BLM Office as an engineering aide. Jobs were just as tight in 1963 as they appear to be today in the Carbon-Emery area.
Although hired as an "engineering aide" my real task was to be the local guide for a Utah State graduate student working on a grant to "classify" the lands adjacent to the proposed Interstate 70 highway from Salina to Green River. Somewhere in the bowels of the BLM is our study of the San Rafael area, complete with annotated maps, photos and descriptive notes. As best we could, we explored 10 to 20 miles on each side of the then I-70 survey stakes and suggested future classification for use of the lands. What a great summer.
My dad, Loran Hunt, and his Uncle Moroni Hunt, did extensive uranium prospecting and some mining in the San Rafael and Eagle Canyon areas in the 1950s. I frequently found mining claims containing Great Uncle Moroni's trademark tobacco cans as the repository for his mining claim papers. When you take the road down into Eagle Canyon from Swasey's Cabin, you will also discover remnants of core drilling on the Moroni Hunt claims. During our 1963 summer adventure, we explored many uranium mining sites, to include their local dynamite storage areas. By 1963, most of the dynamite was at least six to seven years old and had the nitro separating from the sticks. You could smell the nitro in the air. Miners left their explosives near their mining sites since it was against the law to store explosives within city limits.
During a trip back to Utah in May 2000 to attend the re-dedication for the Winter Quarter's Mine disaster, I took a trip down through the Buckhorn and out to Swasey's cabin, via the sink-hole and some other lesser known areas of interest. I sure found a lot more people and especially off road vehicles roaming the area than I ever imagined.
Although I am not a current Utah resident, I was appalled at the arrogance of the Clinton Administration in creation of the Grand Staircase National Monument and the resultant complete loss of voice by the area residents. Local people should have some control of their surrounding land areas. Not the federal government!
I suggest that the local population work on designating the area a county or state park to work on getting the lands out of federal control and back to control by at least the state and hopefully county officials.