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Letter to the Editor: Monumental Errors

Castle Dale
reprint from Salt Lake Tribune

Your editorial "A Swell Monument" (Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 10) was seriously incorrect in several respects. You lament that 2,151 Emery County voters who voted against the San Rafael Swell monument proposal "scuttled at the starting gate" an "innovative approach to increasing public involvement in federal land management." As a result, we somehow "canceled out" the "interests of millions of federal taxpayers who have a stake in the land."

In fact, the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA), BLM's "organic act," gives everyone in the country the opportunity to influence the agency's land management plan for the Swell and all other areas it manages. However, FLPMA also requires BLM to give priority to the management objectives of state and local governments. This is appropriate since the impact of federal management policies falls most heavily on the state and local citizens.

This public involvement is mandated in FLPMA. There is no � repeat, no � such requirement in the Antiquities Act, the law under which presidents designate monuments. Any provision for public involvement in monument management can be revoked by any future president who, with the stroke of his pen, can change anything President Bush might do in creating this monument. So, the only thing "innovative" about public involvement in this monument proposal was that proponents tried to convince us to trade legally mandated public input opportunities for no guarantees at all. We rejected that at the polls and all of us, including the millions of federal taxpayers you are concerned about, will have more input as a result. You also completely missed what truly was innovative about this issue. Unlike President Clinton, President Bush truly is sensitive to local concerns and impacts. He said that he would not proceed over our objections. How refreshing! The governor and our commissioners represented to him that this proposal had local support. We disagreed. So, we put it on the ballot by petition to see who was correct. One additional point. The "special interests" did not vote. We did. By definition, when a majority speaks, that is not some special interest you hear. It is the people governing themselves.

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