How enlightening it was to watch the Governor's State of the State address on television and see Emery County's elected commissioners and the public lands council put on their happy faces and tell the state how thrilled we all are at having a national monument designated on the San Rafael Swell. Just for the recordÃ¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½all residents of Emery County are not thrilled, nor are many others from around the state.
Many local residents and others interested from around the state attended a public hearing on the matter on January 26. How interesting it was to see Governor Leavitt there and hear him say that he had "dropped In" after learning of the hearing on one of our local area radio stations. For his information, Emery County may be close to the edge of the earth, but we just didn't fall off the turnip truck to get here! He should have worked on being a little more believable. For someone who just learned about a hearing being held, he was certainly full of information and had all of the "right" people sitting in the right places. He told those in attendance that President Bush has already been contacted about signing the documents declaring the monument status. For someone who had just heard about the hearing, he'd done an awful lot of legwork. The question was asked several times "Who would be responsible for paying for this?" We were all assured that there would be no fees to enter the monument, etc. Really now! (Where did that turnip truck go?) Do road systems and their maintenance, law enforcement, management, etc. just fall from the sky? Can we be given any "Iron clad" guarantees that our water rights will remain intact, that grazing, hunting, recreational uses, etc. will not be affected by the designation? They can say we will be protected, but a little look back into the history of Lake Powell will tell among other things that it was to leave all existing roads alone and not be administered by the National Parks Service. Were those promises kept? No!
Even though this little monument is to be administered by the BLM, we saw the beating that our neighbors and fellow statesmen took with the designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument and we won't let that happen! Our commissioners told us that the San Rafael Swell Monument would be nothing like the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument, yet the language in the proposal was exactly the same as the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument, except for the grazing. Commissioner Randy Johnson must have repeated 100 times that "time is of the essence" getting this bill signed by the President. Even when the Emery County Clerk suggested that an information brochure be sent out to each taxpayer, the time issue was brought up again! Mr. Funk was right, with every lamb, there is a wolf lurking near by.
I believe that all citizens of Emery County need to take a hard look at what is trying to be shoved down our throats! Remember! Just because this land has been designated a National Monument, it can still be designated a wilderness area.
I also believe that the one thing Emery County commissioners owe all of the residents of Emery County is free swimming lessons because you've sold us down the riverÃ¯Â¿Â½again!!!