As a citizen of this wonderfully unique county I feel it is my obligation to give my opinion of the up coming monument vote in November. I'm sure everyone in the county has seen the signs with big letters saying "Vote No Monument." As a permittee and a lover of the San Rafael Swell, I have taken a somewhat active roll in observing and being involved in this monument process. I say monumental because I have never witnessed or heard of any situation where the Federal government has allowed a small population (like our county) to actually write their own proposal for managing the federal lands within their county boundaries. However, this proposal does exactly that.
Imagine that for a minute, if you vote no monument, you thus take whatever the Federal government will give to you. The alternative is to vote "Yes Monument" and we as a county write what we want as far as the future management for the San Rafael Swell. We may not get exactly what we desire, but the very process indicates we will get more than allowing the Federal government to totally dictate what we get as they did in the Grand Staircase Monument.
We shouldn't fool ourselves by thinking that the Federal government won't slap us with a monument proposal that we don't want because they did this to Garfield and Kane counties with the Grand Staircase. They had absolutely no hand in the process of creating that monument! Garfield and Kane counties management ideas weren't even recognized by President Clinton when he proposed that monument, President Bush is allowing us to participate which shows we are at least being recognized as a player in this process.
I have watched Emery County Public Lands Council create this concept and actually maneuver themselves into a bargaining position with the Federal government. I say to myself, "What an awesome and clever thing that they have done." What a marvelous opportunity to get to the bargaining table where we as a county write what we (who live here) want.
If you are not or have not been involved in this process to move forth your agenda it is your own fault and you should get educated on the facts and get involved. Even if you as a citizen of Emery County don't get exactly what you want in this monument proposal, shouldn't you be glad you are getting what the Emery County Public Lands Council recommends rather that what Representative Maurice Hinchey from New York wants with the Swell. Call his office and ask him what he wants with the San Rafael Swell, and remember he has over 160 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives for his bill.
I know changes are coming for the Swell and I know that we are probably going to dislike a lot of those changes, but with this proposal at least we get to direct those changes toward our historical values and uses. I am a multiple use advocate in the fullest sense of the word. I therefore think we should take a pro-active response to this Monument Proposal rather that a re-active response.
The San Rafael Swell in the past has been a sleeper and has escaped the attention of the people outside of Utah but the tide is changing fast. I know it's hard to change and I am not saying all will be peachy and wonderful with a monument designated by our President with our input and ideas. I will say it will be better than a monument designated by a President without our input and ideas. And that's why I will vote "Yes Monument" in November.
If you have serious questions regarding this monument proposal you should educate yourself by calling your county and state officials and asking for the facts or attend the public meetings.