Voting FOR Initiative #1 does not guarantee that we will have a National Monument on the San Rafael Swell. A "For" vote simply means that the county can continue the public process to see if a Monument will meet the needs of our citizens and the Swell.
At issue is, who should make the decisions about the future of San Rafael Swell? Should they be made by those who live here, or left to Washington D.C. bureaucrats and national environmental organizations?
The decision to consider a monument grew from Emery County's work in Congress to pass National Conservation Area legislation. The National Conservation Area concept was strongly supported by Emery County citizens, but was defeated by heavy opposition by environmentalists. When President Bush announced that he wanted public input before any national monument was created, it became possible to consider a Monument that would accomplish the same goals as our National Conservation Area legislation. It may be called a monument, but the concepts are identical to the concepts in our National Conservation Area proposals.
The proposed San Rafael Western Heritage Monument would focus on the history and heritage of the area. It would encompass historic uses, access, and the long-standing human interaction with the lands of the Swell.
Voting for this Initiative allows us to define a future for the San Rafael that is locally designed and compatible with local desires. We will have monument language that protects our water rights and access, recognizes existing mineral claims and allows wildlife management and hunting or we will abandon the proposal.
We will be able to have our roads and trails clearly defined and formally recognized. Our R.S.2477 right-of-way assertions will not be invalidated by this proposal. Grazing can continue in a monument, and will be recognized as one of the historic themes of the monument.
We will also be able to create a monument advisory council with local representation to ensure that our local voice is never silenced.
Monument designation would create new and much needed economic opportunity for our communities. It will also bring additional financial resources to help manage the lands and provide a quality experience for visitors.
If we leave it to others to define the future of the Swell, local priorities will be at risk. Outside forces have come dangerously close to imposing their will on us in the past, and working diligently to force their agenda upon us. We can't afford to lose this opportunity to protect our local interests.
It has been said: "Control your own destiny, or someone else will." Whether we like it or not, decisions will be made that will dramatically affect the future management of these lands. We can choose to leave these decisions in the hands of others, or we can be bold and take our best shot with the opportunity we currently have available to us. We may never have this opportunity again.
That is why it is so important to vote FOR Citizens Initiative #1.
(The arguments for or against Initiative 1 are the opinions of the authors.)