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Old 07-13-2016   #1
Bluff, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 4
Protection for the San Juan? Boaters Needed in Bluff UT this Saturday

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is coming to Bluff, Utah this Saturday for a "listening session" on the Bears Ears National Monument, which has been proposed by a coalition of Native American tribes and conservation groups. If designated, it would be the Obama administration's largest conservation effort and would protect the popular stretch of the San Juan River (Bluff to Clay Hills) from mining, drilling and new ATV routes. It would also protect 1.9 million acres of wild, archeologically-rich public land to the north of the river including Cedar Mesa, Indian Creek, the Abajo Mountains and White Canyon.

The catch? Many of the locals in San Juan County where I live are very opposed to a monument since it would make it harder to log, drill, mine, and build new roads in the wilderness. Anti-monument protesters are sure to turn out in force which is why we need as many rafters, backpackers, and pro-conservation folk to make sure Sally Jewell hears our voices.

Please make the trip down to Bluff on Saturday, July 16! Meeting starts at 11 am.

Info: Secretary Jewell in Bluff July 16 | Friends of Cedar Mesa

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Old 07-14-2016   #2
Pieter Porcupine
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 88
I have lived in Bluff, Monticello, and Dolores and in this time I have spent much effort exploring places like Dark Canyon, Beef Basin, Butler Wash, Bullet Canyon, etc. Expecting a fair amount of flak for this statement but I don't necessarily think that "protecting" this area by making it into a national monument will do its intended purpose. Sure, it will take it out of the hands of the Bureau of livestock and mines (BLM) as well as the land of many abuses, but how cool is grand gulch gonna be if it's marked with a broad phosphorescent marker in every map sold on Amazon? Need an example? Just ask anyone who lives on McElmo Canyon road what they think about Canyon of the Ancients NM.

The larger the river of knowledge the longer the shoreline of wonder.
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Old 07-14-2016   #3
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,345
I have to agree with MMpete. I used to spend a lot of time in that area and don't see how national monument is going to address issues in a beneficial way.
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 07-14-2016   #4
Bluff, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 4
Yeah that's a very legitimate concern, and it's something that even the people on the front lines of the fight for monument designation struggle with. Nobody who loves the area wants to see it turn into the next Arches National Park or even Canyon of the Ancients for that matter. But right now the BLM is trying to manage 2 million acres of public land with few resources and only one--that's right, one--law enforcement officer. At the same time, it's the most archeologically rich area in the country that has no additional protection besides basic antiquities laws. Graverobbing, looting, vandalism, illegal grazing and illegal ATV riding are all prevalent and with the limited amount of resources the BLM currently has, there's little they can do to stop those abuses.

Would, in an ideal world, it be better if we could continue to keep Cedar Mesa and the surrounding areas undeveloped and off the map? Yes, absolutely. But it's not a secret place anymore and the destruction we're seeing is very real.

To MMPete's points, the area would continue to be managed by the BLM even with a monument designation. They'd just get more resources and extractive industries would be kept out. And the problem with comparing a Bears Ears Monument to Canyon of the Ancients is one of scale. Bears Ears would be 1.9 million acres. Ancients is less than 200,000 acres. Even in complete zoos like Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon, there are plenty of opportunities for solitude if you're willing to walk more than a mile. Some ruins and trails would undoubtedly be overcrowded with a monument designation, but I don't see a better alternative.
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Old 07-14-2016   #5
Droboat's Avatar
Wild Wild West, Colorado
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 214
Real Protection for a Real Place

The hypothetical concerns are valid. But, GroatBoat's post seems to have evoked the type of principled opposition often voiced for river permits. The principle almost always gives way to the realities and deterioration that confirm protection is needed.

I agree that a monument designation that protects this area of public land is the only way to avoid of overuse and abuse by two-legged locusts, especially the ones in Denver and Salt Lake who consider this area part of their National Energy Sacrifice Zone.

"But it's not a secret place anymore and the destruction we're seeing is very real."

"Some ruins and trails would undoubtedly be overcrowded with a monument designation, but I don't see a better alternative."
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Old 07-19-2016   #6
whip's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 516

I'm pretty happy so far with Browns Canyon Nat'l Monument here in Salida. Seems like eliminating grazing and mineral exploration might be worth swapping for increased tourism.

No amount of money is worth your free time!
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