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Letter to the Editor: Reconsider Monument

Huntington, Utah

Dear Governor Leavitt,

It's time to reconsider your proposal for a San Rafael Swell National Monument. It's clear that there is a groundswell of resistance to the idea in Emery County as well as the rest of Utah. The local people simply don't want your office and people in Washington, D.C. imposing a monument any more than those in Kane and Garfield Counties wanted Clinton to uproot their livelihoods.

Secrecy was apparently important to you because you wanted to present the proposal to President Bush before local opposition could organize and be heard. When we complained, you promised the proposal would not be sent to the president before we had the chance to discuss this with you. Then you went ahead and forwarded the proposal anyway before meeting with us. We've been blindsided twice. Once when you announced the proposal and again when you forwarded it to President Bush.

After you forwarded the proposal to the president you came to Castle Dale for a public meeting. You were very clever and brought about 25 cabinet members to applaud your arguments, because the great majority of those present were not receptive. You dodged questions like, "Why can't we have a vote on the issue?" You couldn't endorse a public vote on the monument when you and the people in Washington, D.C. had already decided there will be a monument.

You and the commissioners are trying to scare us. "When Al Gore becomes president, he'll slap a monument down, so we better do it first." We should do now what we don't want Al Gore to do later? You said, "We can put language in the proclamation that preserves grazing, motorized access, and other traditional uses." We know that similar language in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument didn't prevent road closures and a war on grazing. Why do you think SUWA says a monument in the Swell will be a win-win step for them?

You said, "We will develop an open process for the monument that will be used by all subsequent presidents." You really want us to believe that a future Clinton/Gore-type president would hesitate to reject a Bush administration process?

You never explained how it is right for a Republican president to grab a 620,000 acre monument when you, yourself said it was wrong for Clinton to grab monuments of similar sizes. Doesn't Congressman Hansen's bill call for Congressional approval of any monument over 50,000 acres? Don't you support that legislation?

We're sorry you and the Washington, D.C. folks apparently feel the need to use us locals the same way Clinton and Gore used the people of Kane and Garfield Counties. We know that national media fluff and photo ops are really tempting. Clinton couldn't resist them either. In the coming months, the sight of similar photo ops is going to make us in Emery County want to be sick. I just hope the press stops long enough to hear us when we say, "We don't want the monument."

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