Letter to the Editor: Send Message of Support
We can't afford to let Emery County's future be hijacked by outsiders and special interest groups, whether they're recreationists or environmentalists. That's why we have formed the Citizens for Emery County's Future. We have organized to speak out in support of national monument designation for the San Rafael Swell and to counter the flood of opposition funded by outsiders.
We need to send a strong message of support from Emery County to the President. We need to let him know that we want to keep this process and opportunity alive and that we appreciate the value he places on listening to people at the community level.
People have only been hearing the negative side of things up to now. It's time people heard the other side of the story.
Monument designation is the best chance we have to manage the Swell in a way that protects our local interests. Things are going to change whether we like it or not. We can either be involved in shaping our future, or we can sit back and let outsiders dictate what happens out there.
Our motto is: Control your own destiny, or someone else will. If we don't take action, the environmentalists will eventually shove something down our throats that we can't live with. We admit that there are risks in creating a monument, but there are even greater risks in waiting. If you think the current proposal is bad, wait and see what will happen if we don't do this. We can't afford to risk letting others decide our future.
There are six critical local interests that can be protected by proclamation language. They include protection from a Federal reserve water right, protection of existing rights and claims, protection of grazing rights, protection of hunting and fishing opportunities, protection of the County's 2477 roads claims. and on-going local involvement in monument management through a Monument Advisory Council.
Monument designation will give us protections that will endure. This is the only avenue we can see that will give us language with the force of law that will address our local issues. Contrary to what the opposition has been saying, no monument proclamations have ever been changed by subsequent presidents or by the courts.
This initiative is shaping up to be one of the most critical decisions the voters of Emery County will ever make. Citizens County Initiative #1 will give voters the chance to vote either to proceed with the process or to abandon the initiative and walk away. It would be irresponsible to walk away with so much at stake.
We are concerned by the extent to which outsiders are putting money into a negative ad campaign and using scare tactics and misinformation to make people think that monument designation is a bad thing.
These people represent a very narrow recreation interest and they have reason to be concerned, but they aren't looking at the bigger picture. They aren't concerned about our water and our grazing rights. Recreation is important and we support their basic concerns, but we can't afford to sacrifice these higher priorities in the name of recreation. We think they would be better off working with us to protect our common interests rather that rejecting this opportunity. The "worst case" scenarios they describe are much more likely to happen if we don't move forward with a locally designed monument proposal that if we do.
There are also other important benefits that can come from monument designation. Creation of a Western Heritage National Monument will open the door to new economic and business opportunities for the county. It will also help us preserve our history and heritage for future generations and make new financial resources available for developing a heritage tourism economy. With our coal mines reaching the end of their reserves, we have to look to the future and start doing new things to provide jobs for local citizens. We can't wait until the last coal mine closes.
We urge all Emery County residents who share our goals to contact us and join in our efforts. We want to make sure that the voice of common sense and the best interests of Emery County will be heard.