I went down to Bluff, Utah, this last Saturday to listen to what the local people in San Juan County had to say about the proposed Bears Ears Monument.
Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, certainly generated a lot of attention with her visit. I have to say that I was disappointed because a lot of outside people were bused in by environmental activists or drove there to voice their support for the 1.9-million-acre monument and I’m guessing around 1,000 people or more were present.
I saw quite a few of our own local people from Moab and some of them talked. Since the crowd was so large and time limited, officials in charge used a lottery system and if you were lucky enough to draw out, you got to express your opinion. It was an interesting process to witness about what should be done to “Protect Bears Ears.”
I stayed for the whole event and noted that it was about 50-50 in favor of or against having a monument of those who spoke. I paid close attention to what the actual local people were saying. Again, it was about 50-50 with the Ute and Navajo folks, with the majority of Anglo people against it.
They held this event in the community center, which has about a 300-person capacity. The rest had the option of being outside under a tent or finding a shady place beneath a cottonwood tree like myself if they could manage.
While the arguments for or against proceeded in the heat of the day from 1 to 4 p.m., I noticed a lot of well-intentioned people who didn’t want to waste their water, come over and pour the contents of their water bottle on a lone Yucca plant on the side of the building.
This went on for at least the six hours I was present and I am guessing that at least 100 or more people came and watered that poor plant. The majority of those who did this were wearing the free T-shirts being handed out to those who were for the monument.
I sat there in the shade with some Native American locals and never saw one of them “protect the plant” from the ravages of the hot searing desert sun.
In my opinion, that plant being overwatered was actually a perfect example of what will happen to the Bears Ears area if a monument is allowed. Well-intentioned people will come in and love it to death and the unique treasures will in time have to be controlled and restricted or be completely destroyed.
I sure hope that Yucca plant makes it.