|Congressman Chris Cannon talks with Orangeville resident Paula Wellnitz after the town meeting.|
Congressman Chris Cannon held a town meeting recently at the Huntington City Hall. Cannon said he had spent some time touring the Santaquin area surveying the damage caused by the recent mud slide and also the town of Manti following the aftermath of a tornado.
Cannon explained a little about the current climate in Washington and the issues being debated. He said they are struggling with the Iraq issue and whether or not to invade Iraq without being provoked, although the question would be if it is a just war defending home freedoms. With the Al-Qaeda fighters they have people with different philosophies, people who are willing to sacrifice themselves. We are hated because we represent different ideas about man and God. We broke away from England because we are equal and this is a purely American concept. We are more powerful economically and have more technical advances. We have a unique military and the only country that even comes close is Britian. We are a unique country that has the will to develop systems, the American concept. Islamic fundamentalists want to destroy Israel; they hate Israel and Saddam Hussein uses the concept to fire people up.
Benjamin Netanyahu in speaking for the Israeli people suggests Saddam be taken out, his reasoning being that Saddam is less effective now than he will be five to 10 years from now. When the planes flew into the Twin Towers it had been discussed for two years and they never gave a thought to how many would die. When Bin Laden took control they have 200-300 people controlling thousands of people. The thinking was in liberating Afghanistan that fewer people would die in a war than were being killed by their own people. The bad guys and the criminals mete out justice, which is not the same case as Iraq. Iran is working to become more like us. Netanyahu said we can defend ourselves with gas masks and innoculations, but their (Iraq) effectiveness will increase over time. Israelis will die in a war, but not as many as they will lose over time. The Islamic religion has been hijacked by Islamic fundamentalists.
The question is whether or not the UN would support us in any action we take against Iraq. Britian would be with us. The security council is complicated. Much of the membership of the UN is made up of fundamentalist countries. We're not sure what the UN will do. President Bush said we'll go ahead whether or not the UN supports us. I am supportive of the president and what he's doing. Saudi Arabia can't ask us to go into Iraq, because Iraq would turn around and bomb them. Cannon referred to Hussein as a bad man that needs to be taken out. Cannon was also questioned by an audience member as to why President Bush doesn't send back anyone who is against the United States. Cannon said that a number of Islamic men have been called in for questioning to talk about what they knew, and they signed contracts of support for the United States. Most Muslims love America.
Cannon said that there are a lot of issues going on, "A lot of the people I have talked to are looking to Emery County for leadership in public lands issues." Cannon answered a question about the proposed land exchange. One audience member was concerned about access issues in the Justeson Flat area, he said the state is easier to work with than the BLM when it comes to access issues. Cannon took note of this issue and will check into it, he also mentioned that those with prior rights would just have a new owner and grazing and other activities should continue as before. An audience member also commented that when working on installing a stock watering pond, the BLM could take up to four years for the paperwork and you can just call up the state and have a permit within a week. It was pointed out that BLM seems to be a less effective manager than if the land were in private ownership. Cannon also mentioned the Desert Ranch which is a pilot program for 100,000 acres within the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Cannon also said that Larry Young of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has commented that they like the idea of a monument. If it's a good monument, if it's a bad monument then the next good president will make it a good monument. "Bill Clinton and Al Gore are not restrained by public sentiment." Cannon pointed out that Bush could change the Clinton's monument, but hasn't done so.
The next audience question dealt with a future president feeling unrestrained and cutting off access. He said, "Much discussion has been put into a new standard of how a monument should be done. I think it is an abuse of the Antiquities Act because of its size and to change management on a vast acreage of land. I think the monument proposal is just more people willing to abuse the Antiquities Act, like Clinton. SUWA has not backed off the Red Rock Wilderness because of the GSENM. Monuments are not user friendly and are not meant to be. I think they are trying to circumvent FLPMA and it's still an abuse of the Antiquities Act. The Act states you should identify sites and features and preserve them in as small an area as possible. This acreage is not conservative."
Cannon pointed out that there are those in the Congress and Senate that are against multi-use and multi-access and they have not cleaned house. Cannon pointed out that in talking with BLM they see themselves managing more monuments and moving in that direction. Cannon saw these large designations as being without clear management policies.
The question was brought up of how many bills are passed in Congress the first year they are introduced? Cannon answered that not many were passed and it takes a lot of effort to achieve the critical mass, 218, votes needed in order to pass a bill. Brian Hawthorn, ATV activist, pointed out that the original bill introduced by Emery County was a stroke of genius and had it all and included wilderness.
Cannon pointed out the misperceptions in Congress of the lands and the people in the west. The environmentalists have them convinced that we're stupid out here and we need to change people's thinking. Cannon pointed out that working within the law is all that we have and our common foundation.
An audience member voiced their opinion that the new monument video produced concerning the monument concept was based on fear and threat and said, "Do it now or an environmentalist will do it for us.'
Cannon pointed out that the fear is legitimate. He also said that decisions in land management fall under the jurisdiction of Congress. The question was raised if a monument is designated in Emery County, will Congress stop sponsoring the Redrock Wilderness Bill. There were those present who believed that Redrock will continue to be shoved down our throats. A monument is made by executive order and any president can change any other president's executive order.
The question was raised of where the money came from for the informational county monument video. Commissioner Hatch said the video was produced to show why the public lands council is pursuing this avenue. It's purely the public lands council and the things they're concerned about. He assumed the money came from the advisory council.
Commissioner Hatch said he had heard support for the original bill and that the six areas of concern addressed in the video are taken directly from the previous bills. People have said they would be happy if we could get those bills passed and this is the next best thing to one of those bills. There are tours that will take place to educate people on what is out there on the Swell.
Cannon suggested the county identify specific historical and scientific objects and possibly consider a series of small monuments which only include enough acreage to preserve the specific site. Hawthorne was concerned that the six local concerns would not be addressed and that the President cannot say that this is the management plan. Talk moved to the BLM's access management plans. Hatch commented that the county had responded to the plan with their recommendations and hoped everyone else had responded. Cannon felt that there would be an assurance of more access if the monument was in smaller acreage. He also commented how Bruce Babbit had cut off massive access in the West.