I am a life long resident of Emery County and grew up on the Swell. I have to admit I took much of the Swell for granted until the Wilderness issues were raised some 20 years ago. This was serious motivation to get involved because our way of life was and is in jeopardy. Water, access, valid existing rights, ranching, hunting and recreation are all an integral part of our heritage and must be protected by any means possible. Thus the idea of a Monument created by the President designed with these local parameters was conceived after other attempts to protect the Swell and our way of life have failed in Congress. I am a volunteer on the Emery County Public Lands Council. This letter is not a position of the lands council only my opinions. I am discouraged that we as a county cannot agree on a direction to preserve this way of life. The threat of Wilderness comes closer with every Congress and some day it will happen. I have always been taught we must be pro-active or accept the consequence of no action. The lands council has not undertaken this Monument idea in secret. A lot of thought and study was involved with one objective, to preserve the way of life in Emery County. Contrary to many of the articles I have seen. I thought we all had the same objective but obviously not. I believe many of those who object to this idea are motivated by different agendas.
I see many politicians sitting on the fence when it comes to voicing their support or non-support of the idea. This issue is Emery County's future and has been reduced to a political football. We are severely divided and the environmentalists know this and will further their agenda of keeping people out of the Swell. Numerous public meetings have been held and many ideas incorporated in the proposed proclamation. I have not heard an alternative to the Monument idea. What is the right way and where are the experts the opposition talks about. If you have an objection you should offer an alternative. The proclamation highlights protections we require as a minimum. My understanding is no action will take place if any of these are not included in the final document. For what its worth I applaud those who have made the effort to keep involved in the process and understand the issues.
The BLM travel plan is in the final stages. This will determine the routes that will be closed or left open. This will take place regardless of what we do with the Monument idea so if anyone thinks access will be better if we vote against the Monument they are mistaken. The lands council's position submitted was the most access friendly alternative. The council also extended the comment period on the BLM Travel Plan so more comments could be submitted. Keep in mind the environmental groups also had the right to submit comments.
So what do we do now? I believe we should vote (YES) and keep the process moving forward. Admittedly some mistakes have been made but you don't make mistakes if you don't do anything. Some say (no action) is the way to go. This is a cop outÃ¯Â¿Â½the easy way out with no one responsible for anythingÃ¯Â¿Â½Fence sitting. We can start over, resaddle another horse and go through the same arguments again. Time is not on our side. This is a slow process and a few votes in the Congressional elections could change the entire picture. We can pursue the Monument Idea or just do nothing and have the SUWA's of the world decide for us.
I commend the commissioners and the Lands Council for attempting this Monument Idea (they do care or they wouldn't have pursued this idea).