I thought for sure that there would be a response in your Aug 24-30 edition in answer to Jim Stiles’ column in the previous issue, and that I wouldn’t have to get my ire up again (“The ‘New West’s’ big lie,” Aug. 17-23, 2017 Moab Sun News). But no, your faithful readers decided – wisely perhaps, to just ignore Stiles’ tired rant. So, permit me . . .
Stiles harkens back to 2008 and then to 1998 to find quotes to buttress his argument that environmentalists and the outdoor recreation industry have oversold Moab by touting the economic value of our public lands. A similar, but longer, column in the San Juan Record of Aug. 23 actually identifies the “offending” parties, namely, SUWA, the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Trust. Stiles fails to recognize that if it had not been for these organizations and their allies in the Utah Wilderness Coalition and Wild Utah Project, there would be little public land to protect. There would be no Red Rock Wilderness Act to establish boundaries of eligible lands to designate wilderness, no lobbying and educating Congress, no pressure on the BLM and Forest Service for conservation, and very likely, no national monuments designated by Presidents Clinton and Obama. In fact, without the Antiquities Act, there would be no national parks or monuments in Utah.
How long has it been since Stiles lived here – maybe 15 years? In fact, as far as I know, he doesn’t even live in San Juan County or anywhere in the Four Corners area anymore. If Stiles wants to draw his sword against the dragons that are devouring the character of Moab and sapping the quality of life in unincorporated neighborhoods of Grand County, let him look at SITLA policies (HandleBar Ranch, Lionsback, Cloudrock); at plans of the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition for a Book Cliffs highway; at impacts of mining and drilling and natural gas production, including flaring and intrusive pipelines; and at continued threats by those scammers who are sucking money from investors for tar sands and nuclear energy.
He needs to drive down 191/Main Street, starting with so-called glamping on the north, past Utah Giants, the growing spread of Canyonlands by Night, the boom in construction of big motels, the overnight rentals popping up like poison mushrooms, and past the array of UTVs at Third South crouched like giant mosquitoes ready to inflict impacts that are worse than West Nile or Zika. It was not bicycles or hikers that were responsible for the long string of cars at Arches that necessitated the installation of those itty-bitty traffic lights at the entry.
Driving down Main Street, he would not see the good things that are happening: at Moab City solar and sustainability efforts; at Castle Valley – the first municipality in Utah to use 100 percent renewable energy; the hospital’s new urgent care center; new affordable houses by Community Rebuilds and the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah; arts events; residents’ lively participation in city and county commissions, councils, and special district boards and in public hearings. He wouldn’t know of entertainment drawing folks to the Farmers Market; of the living, evolving tradition of the Moab Music Festival; and optimistic plans for a college campus.
So Stiles, if you want to repeat your rusty diatribes and attacks on the likes of SUWA and David Erley, we can’t stop you. You do have a big megaphone. But really, your Zephyr is less and less like a cleansing wind that sweeps out pollution and cobwebs; more and more like an erratic blowhard careening out of, and back into, the past. Who needs it?