It’s hard to beat Ron Gibson’s op-ed for being more irrelevant to the issue of whether Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments deserve to continue as part of our nation’s treasure of monuments (“Farm Bureau applauds monument review,” May 18-24, 2017 Moab Sun News). As president of the Utah Farm Bureau, Mr. Gibson understandably focuses on livestock grazing, but monument status doesn’t affect that. Both monument proclamations indicate that the BLM (Bears Ears and Grand Staircase) and Forest Service (Bears Ears) will continue to manage livestock grazing as one of a number of multiple uses. You could hardly graze the desert Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument more: 96.3 percent is active cattle allotments. That percentage is close to the same in Bears Ears, with 100 percent of the Manti-La Sal National Forest portion in active cattle allotments, and likely near that on the BLM portion.
What Mr. Gibson fails to mention is far more relevant: Monument status has been shown to improve local economies; provides all of us with spirit-lifting wide and wild open space; protects Grand Staircase from being mined for Earth-cooking coal; and, in the case of Bears Ears, represents one heartfelt step toward shared management with five tribes whose long history with these lands has been only dimly understood or appreciated by most of us.