The Bureau of Land Management issued new proposed management plans for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and related lands this week, despite ongoing legal challenges. [Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management]

The current unbridled growth of the tourism industrial complex in Moab and much of southeast Utah points out the need for urgent protection of our nearby county, state and federal public lands. Locally, we can all see what happens when public lands are not adequately protected.

Looking more regionally, our new Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland, recently toured southeast Utah to learn more about Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. She visited with Native American groups, Bureau of Land Management employees and Utah politicians to determine whether the two monuments should be returned to their former status.

Without protection for Bears Ears, is it too much of a stretch to imagine “Moon House Manor Overnight Rentals—Stay two nights and get discount tickets to the nightly laser show—Bringing the Ancients Back to Life!” Or how about buying a time-share at the “Cedar Mesa Extreme Adventure Resort and OHV Park”?

I don’t mean to be sarcastic—this is a deadly serious issue—but it is important to remember that even with the change to a more environmentally protective administration, the forces dead-set against protecting public lands are still as strong as ever. Don’t forget that Phil Lyman, who was pardoned by Trump over his public land trespass conviction, is now a Utah state representative. And most of the current members of the Utah delegation think that federal lands should be controlled by the state.

Thankfully, Secretary Haaland truly cares about the monuments and the life, present and past, that they nurture. Please contact her and let her know that you support the urgent reinstatement of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

Harry Holland

Castle Valley