As citizens of Emery County we need to be extremely cautious about supporting a national monument. We need to ask ourselves, what impact will this have on our future? Emery County officials are selling this proposal to capture the tourism dollar. The tourists are already here! The beauty of the Swell has already attracted the tourists. The focus and goal of Emery County should be to bring the tourists off the Swell and into our communities for lodging, gas and supplies.
The Emery County Public Lands Council has been so consumed with creating a national heritage area and now a monument, that they have lost focus on tapping the already existing tourist dollar.
Wes Curtis of the Emery County Public Lands Council stated that this monument would not have any effect on the BLM's current management plan governing off highway vehicle use, grazing, water and mineral leases.
In the future the BLM could be more restrictive beyond the current land management plan because the Swell will be a monument. I feel that all areas will be restricted.
When the Grand Staircase National Monument was created, it was heavily contested by residents of rural Utah and Governor Leavitt. It was stated that President Clinton had exceeded the scope of the Antiquities Act. Many mineral leases were lost and future exploration was halted. Since this designation, the environmental community has become more aggressive in the area. Many grazing leases have been purchased by the environmental community.
By creating another monument, Emery County will acknowledge that the president of the United States can, with a signature, create a national monument. This will have a profound impact on rural Utah. If we ever have another president like Clinton, the sky will be the limit and Emery County will have laid the foundation.
This proposal does not need to be rushed. Every citizen of Emery County needs to carefully consider this proposal.
As for me, I am not opposed to the spirit behind creating a national monument as proposed by Emery County. However, the current language addressing off highway vehicle use, grazing and mineral leases needs to be firmed up to protect our rights. Until this happens, I cannot support this current proposal.