Date: 24 May 2017
To: Secretary of the Interior Zinke
Re: Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument
My wife Carol and I are opposed to the Bears Ears National Monument and are asking you to rescind it. My wife has lived her entire life in Monticello. I moved here in 1956. I worked for the USDA Forest Service for a period of 38 years from the time I started working for the Monticello Ranger District of the Manti-LaSal National Forest seasonally in 1966 until I retired in 2004 as a full time Rangeland Management Specialist. As such I am very familiar with the entire area encompassed by the monument boundary.
At Present the existing laws and regulations for the DOI Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service are more than adequate to protect the natural and cultural resources within this area. The downfall is that “Budget Restraints” and thus lack of “people-power” minimize the effectiveness of protecting the resources. It is ludicrous at a time when our Nations is literally trillions of dollars in debt to even consider development of another Monument that will surely cost millions of dollars to develop, implement, maintain, and operate. If only a small percentage of the dollars needed to create the Bears Ears Allotment were added to the local budgets for the local offices of the BLM and USFS that would provide adequate ”boots” on the ground to protect the public lands encompassed within the boundaries of these agencies.
We are concerned now that the monument has been declared that it will result in a massive influx of visitors to the area and the cultural resource sites within the area will be impacted by vandalism. Although there are numerous ancient cliff dwellings within the Monument they likely comprise only a small percentage of the acreage of the Monument, probably less than 5%. If the Monument is not rescinded then at least reduce the size so that it only projects around and protects the various cultural sites. The supporters of the proposed monument keeping talking about how we need to protect this pristine area, indeed it is “PRISTINE” and remains so under the current management of the DOI Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service. Admittedly one can find evidence of vandalism and other impacts to the resources in this area but these are the exception rather than the rule. The development of a monument will certainly increase impacts to the natural resources as it will draw people to the area like bears are drawn to honey.
At present there is a great diversity of activities that do take place in this area including livestock grazing, firewood gathering, sightseeing, recreational hiking and biking, horse riding and pack trips, ATV riding (with numerous developed roads and trails), pinon nut gathering, medicinal herb gathering, minerals extraction, dispersed camping, wildlife viewing and hunting, and the list goes on and on. If the Bears Ears Monument designation runs true to actions in other Monuments this will impact all and curtail many of these activities.
The current designation of the Bears Ears Monument will likely impact water rights held by individuals and cities, private land inholdings, and Livestock Grazing Permits on National Forest and BLM Public lands wherein they have proprietary rights on grazing allotments. We fear the economic impacts of the monument may have severe impact on the small communities of Blanding and Monticello and on the Navajo and Ute Members of the tribes in San Juan County.
We feel the monument, if retained, must be managed under the Multiple Use Concept. There are literally 100’s of thousands of dollars in range structures and range improvements that have been developed over the last 100 plus years. These improvements provide water and a sustainable vegetative resources for livestock and wildlife. These improvements need to be constantly maintained and improved, to do so it is mandatory that heavy equipment (i.e. Dozers and trackhoes), trucks, pickups, ATV’s, chainsaws, etc., to be used for this work. In order to do this there must be accessible use of all existing road and trails. It should also be noted that the National Forest has continually provided sales of commercial stands of Ponderosa Pine Timber for timber products and they continue to implement Timber Stand Improvement activities to maintain the timber resources located on the National Forest Public Lands.
The monument area is literally a magnificent garden, there is a saying that if you don’t continue to weed your garden then you soon find you have lost your garden. Please leave the area under a multiple use strategy so that the BLM and USFS, Term Grazing Permit holders, and others will still have the tools and management practices to maintain these natural resources. We again ask that you rescind this monument.
Jimmie and Carol Forrest