I knew the “president” would reverse the National Monuments so I’m not surprised. But I still feel like I’ve been punched. I’ve spent a little time walking in both the monuments he decimated, mostly GSENM (about 2-3 weeks total, living out of a backpack). I’ve grown to see why the lands were protected and why so many locals protest. 50-mile Mountain (second picture) sits atop one of the largest remaining coal deposits in the world. As you climb around it you will find gorgeous black coal just squeezing out of the ground. You also find many long roads not on the map – built illegally by prospectors. In 1994 before Clinton signed GSENM into federal protection, a Dutch coal mining company (Andalex) was trying to figure out how to build the infrastructure needed to get the coal out. After Clinton signed it, he was burned in effigy in Escalante and children released black balloons in Kanab. You can see how disenfranchised and desperate for jobs some Americans are!
But as you can see from the video here, many local ranchers still have their way with the land, a provisional compromise of the Monuments. In this case the cattle were dropped off near headwaters of the only flowing water in the west Kaiparowits, and left to have their numbskull way with it. Downstream a ways, hikers probably drink this without filtering it, not imagining that ranchers would have used might and dynamite to force their way so remote. I tried getting the grazing permit info for this one but the land manager won’t return my call. Water is widely abused in remote areas. What I’m trying to say is these are not the pristine areas you think. They’ve already been robbed and raped, and are hurting.
Maybe when local ranchers lose grazing land to foreign mining companies they will change their minds about the Monument. But Utah does like its coal power…
If you know anyone with the sort of cash to buy land, the parcel in my last photo has been ravaged by grazing and needs a break. It’s practically next door to Kodachrome Park, no joke. Photos from 10/2017