The Castle Country Rural Alliance appreciates all who voted against the monument in last Tuesday's election. We caution residents of Emery County that the monument idea is still very much in play. Despite assurances by the Governor's office and supporters of the monument here in Emery County, there is still a lot of momentum behind the idea. The BLM apparently will continue to study the original 620 thousand acre proposal and host public meetings in the next few weeks. Their report to President Bush is due early next year.
The CCRA is anxious to move ahead with several initiatives. First and foremost is revising the make-up of the Public Lands Council in order to make it more representative. For example, the Council currently does not have a sportsmen's (hunter) representative even though sportsmen groups are very active in public land management both on the mountain and in the desert. Other changes are needed as well.
We also want to express how absolutely vital it is for everyone in Emery County to become more active in land-use planning. The Forest Service is in the process of revising their Forest Plan. That means more "roadless areas" could be designated, more loss of access, stiffer regulations on our cattlemen and more regulation on reservoir and other water developments.
The BLM is revising their management plan as well and they'll be considering whether or not to designate new Wilderness Study Areas and decide which dry washes will be recommended as Wild and Scenic Rivers (don't laugh, it's true!). The CCRA will be offering constructive management ideas for San Rafael Swell within this planning effort.
A big national monument is only one of many threats to our county. We see the need to move forward with programs and policies designed to defend multiple use management.
Finally, there has been much written (and probably more to come) about certain outside special interests influencing this election. With 80 percent of Emery County federally managed, we'd better get used to that sort of thing. We think it's important to point out that the same outside special interests that are being criticized now, (OHV, Power Sports, Etc.), are the same outside special interests that helped Emery County keep our roads open in the past. Also, it was the residents of Emery County, not outside interests, that voted last Tuesday.
We've got to find a way stop some of the special interests from standing on the sidelines throwing lawsuits at each other and bring them to the table. The Swell is special to all of us and we've got to manage it in the right way. The CCRA looks forward to working with the new Commission, the BLM and the Forest Service, and even the "outside special interests" in order to take proper care of our lands.