Mr. Orrin Hatch,

You have been my senator for roughly 30 years, and it hasn’t been all bad. I would like to believe you understand what your constituents want and how things are heading concerning land protection for our public lands.

I’m a ranch handyman and contract biologist working primarily in San Juan County for the past 35 years. Elk Ridge, where the Bears Ears are, is my home: it just happens to be all federal land, so I share this magical landscape with all Americans that come here. I live on an inholding deep in the monument, happy to have a simple life in this desert mountain island paradise.

Your recent stand on Bears Ears, a region I have worked my entire adult life to protect, doesn’t represent the sentiments of Utahns, Americans or the Four Corners tribes, who have been given the unprecedented opportunity to help manage their sacred traditional lands for the benefit of all in collaboration with U.S. agencies.

It is tragic that you don’t support this, and it would be devastating to me and thousands of fellow Utahns that have worked hard for this if our dream is rescinded. Harder still to bear would be the loss of solidarity and cooperation between the sovereign tribes that initiated this joint process and the loss of the collective management potential that would benefit natives and San Juan County, as you know, one of the poorest and most heavily government-subsidized counties in the nation.

The misinformation, subterfuge, bullying, fear mongering and political sleight of hand accompanying the resistance to the monument has saddened me in the extreme, as I want economic prosperity and spiritual wholeness for the people of this region.

Why can’t you see what an empowering boon this is for the people of San Juan County, to acknowledge, protect and share the amazing beauty and history of this land we all love? You know there is no theft of rights from the people, as this land has always been federal: it is Rob Bishop and his corporate funders that want to steal the wealth of our public lands and leave us with toxic waste, shattered landscapes and waterways, and forever lost dreams.

If the monument is undone, all it will do is prolong the battle for Utah’s wild lands. I have no doubt that battle will eventually protect far more of San Juan County from corporate schemes than even the original Bears Ears proposal would have. Time is on our side. Won’t you please stop fighting on the wrong side? It’s time to save the planet for our children’s children. Help us! Use your power for good!