I don't live in Emery County, but I've worked there for 25 years. I buy gas and food there, and I spend a large portion of my spare time there. I've hiked, backpacked and ridden ATVs on the San Rafael Desert for many years and I feel like I know it as well as anybody. The area is very important to me.
I've read all of the articles, ads and letters to the editor in last Tuesday's Progress. I feel like I'm fairly well informed on the monument issue, but if I weren't I know that I would be confused by the claims being made by all sides involved in this issue. Let me express to you what I know for sure.
1. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is not a friend to the people of rural Utah, especially Emery County. And if they want a national monument, as they stated in their ad, than we don't want it.
2. SUWA is not a friend to the rancher, they hate horses and cattle as much as they do ATVs.
3. A National Monument will not stop the Redrock Wilderness Act. As SUWA states in their ad, monument or not they will continue to press for passage of this act.
4. I took offense to SUWAs insinuation that hiking and backpacking are the only proper family activities that should be allowed on the San Rafael. For one thing SUWA is not a family oriented organization. For another, responsible motorized vehicle use is the primary outdoor activity for my family.
5. Going by what I read in the letters to the editor, some of the cattlemen in Emery County don't realize that they too are a special interest group. And that a National Monument is not in their best interest either, ask the people of Escalante.
6. The Utah Shared Access Alliance is not an outside group bringing in outside money. They represent me and many people in Emery County, and the money they use are the dues and donations we give them to represent us.
It is no different than the NRA being involved if an attempt was being made to ban guns in Emery County, which I'm sure SUWA would support.
In closing, I don't believe a national monument is an answer to the San Rafael question. I don't believe the people of Emery County would have a say in the way it was managed. I think a future liberal president like Clinton could alter it in any way they saw fit.
I think there is a good chance that grazing, hunting, off highway vehicle use and mining activities would be severely restricted or eliminated as was done with the Grand Staircase. I say vote no on National Monument.