It is time to make a decision concerning the National Monument movement in the San Rafael Swell. The November vote will in some way steer the direction of land use in this remote area.
Yes, President Bush said he "will not" make the San Rafael Swell a national monument if the citizens of the area don't want it. But he also said that he "would" make the San Rafael Swell a monument if they do, indeed, want one.
Oh and yes, making the San Rafael Swell a National Monument will not keep it from becoming a Wilderness Area in the future, but it will not speed up the designation of Wilderness if it is made a National Monument. In all probability it will slow up the need to be designated a Wilderness Area.
Let's look at the process of becoming a National Monument. It doesn't necessarily need an act of Congress, the President himself can make one. Congress can designate a National Monument but it is a longer process.
What is the process of designating wilderness? First, you need to outline a Study Area and post its boundaries, complete an Environmental Impact Statement and present its facts. Last but not least, convince Congress that it is worthy of wilderness and have the majority of Congressmen vote yea for designation. This brings up an interesting equation; How many Congressmen are "for" protecting the scenic resources? What are the chances that the majority of Congressmen are ready to let the land "take care of itself" and leave it alone?
There is a great video production made by the BLM on the spectacular scenery of the San Rafel Swell. This along with a lot of other professionally contributed information is available to the public. What happens to all of these, scientifically compiled, documents once the National Monument is voted down and rejected by the local people? Suppose the Wilderness Alliance gains possession of the gathered information and presents it to Congress. Will Congress be impressed by the uniqueness and beauty of the San Rafael Swell? Will Congress want to preserve the beauty of this area?
Completion of information gathering and conclusion by the BLM will be submitted and available to the publicby early next year. Voting on Nov. 5 will be to reject or continue to explore the proposed national monument concept. Voter decision will be based, at that time, on the SWAG approach and personal opinion. Becoming an informed voter means reviewing research and scientific studies compiled on a specific issue by professional groups appointed to do so.
It would be a contribution to our landscape to have a national monument in our back yard.