The proposal to create a national monument in Emery County was a surprise to Utahns, especially to Emery County residents who first learned of it on Jan. 26 at a public meeting held in Castle Dale by the county commission and the Emery County Public Lands Council.
Two days later, the governor delivered an even bigger surprise in the state of the state address when he announced the monument proposal would be formally submitted to the president.
What is unsettling is that the governor participated in the Castle Dale public meeting and I, like others attending, clearly heard that this request would not go forward without the support of the people of Emery County.
In spite of the governor's insistence that this is not a "stealth" monument like the Grand Staircase, it smells like stealth to me.
The general public, including organizations representing San Rafael stakeholders, had no knowledge of this monument proposal. I believe this is more like an orchestrated stealth proposal being moved ahead at unbelievable speed with no intent to consider the wishes of the citizens of Utah and the stakeholders of the Swell.
The Antiquities Act provides for protection of historic and scientific objects on federal land allowing designation of only the land necessary for such protection. There is no obvious need to include more than 620,000 acres of land in a monument to preserve relevant historical objects.
It should be important to the commissioners and the governor that any monument request meets the requirements of the Antiquities Act and that the public process truly reflects the desires of the people of Emery County and teh State of Utah. In spite of what has happened in the past, moving ahead as the governor announced ignores proper public input and would set a poor public policy precedent for the Bush administration.
It is hard to understand the need to rush this proposal ahead when the area to be considered is federal land currently protected by the Federal Land Policy Management Act and is subject to a myriad of federal protections, no different than a monument designation would provide.
I believe it is not in the best interests of this state to make such a request before gathering input from its citizens and the users of the Swell.
To request monument status for the Swell before soliciting input from users is a violation of public trust. I sincerely hope neither the Emery County commissioners nor the governor would violate that trust.