So there are two sides to every story and my stance on the monument review has not changed even though over the past week I have spoken to many conservative pro border shrink views. It may not affect a visitor experience to a certain extent as there is so much to see here. The shrinking borders will have deep ripples on the Native American and Science communities. Without protection many could sites be lost or damaged in the process. This photo is a sign of what could happen if these sites are not protected as this photo was private land and the antiquities act was not signed at the time of the desecration. I do not have any examples of any that I have come across that were recently desecrated but it is not outrageous to think that many places will be marked on or just demolished due to commercial purposes and lost. Although some may say there may be better management of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante through it’s shrinking borders but that is highly subjective. The science community could be affected if areas are sold where there are many fossil records that are being uncovered in this wonderful and rare place.
This is a highly remote area with no services in most places, and any company would be nuts to think that the coal here is economically practical to mine and truck out; as there are no railroads close to ship the coal. That being said the coal market is dwindling with China and India recognizing solar as a more viable source of energy for the health of their public. The coal plant closest to the facility is going to be shut down in 2020 so local plant usage is out well. Many areas in Wyoming, North Dakota, and many other coal dependent state economies are cutting production due to a soft coal market. If they still wanted to continue mining in a way that is not going to disturb cultural remains or large fossils uncovered it would make the attempt a time intensive and kill any profits they would have due to shut downs in these instances. This land is not viable to mine for so many reasons yet that is the main reason given for the shrinking of Grand Staircase.
This land holds more beauty than one would think. Yes it is desolate but Highway 12 is one of the most beautiful and scary drives you will take in the US. The winding road goes over the ridges from Dixie National forest to Grand Staircase Escalante, (which will now be the Escalante unit). These photos were about two miles from Escalante River close to 12.
The Bears Ears I visited last april and did not have much time in it but I did stay a day in the Valley of the Gods which is an amazing spot much like Monument Valley. I posted this first photo in a previous post not knowing that the Bears Ears border cut would include “Valley of the God’s”, but I had to repost as it a favorite of mine.
The winding washboard road going through the Valley of the God’s has these beautiful red buttes and spires along the way. It is a drive if you can get through the washes that I would highly recommend. MY Chevrolet HHR named Helen, handled it ok but do be careful and walk the washes to make sure they are safe first. I spent the night here and was moving out as soon as I saw the rain clouds above that came through as this rain could have stranded me for a day or longer. Always carry enough food and water when entering remote areas that have the possibility to strand you. This was a great experience and it is a shame this will not be part of the revised Bears Ears National Monument.
The red rocks here are great for color or black and white photography. The hiking here is fairly easy but highly rewarding. This area is thought to have Uranium and that is the push behind most of the Bears Ears reduction in size. Nuclear power is also on decline after the Japan incident. Since these plants need a lot of water they have to be built in an area where an accident would have severe consequences, the radiation levels in Pacific ocean life has increased significantly since the tsunami that caused the reactor breach. We also have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world 40 times over so why do we need more of this ore that the mining produces hazardous waste and the use also produces the same.
No matter what side of this argument you are on, if you look at what is happening rationally as the area is not economically viable to mine the resources they are after. It is also are not in our best interests as a country. If they tell you that there will be an economic boom in the area they may be overselling this fact heavily. This push to allow the executive branch this sole power to appoint people in a committee to shrink parks and monuments go against the will of the people and however this case goes it could set precedent on many other state’s parks and monuments once the supreme court rules on the subject. So if they suddenly found some reason to shrink other parks for monetary reasons they could much easier than the process that is already in place. I do however believe in the day of wildfires and higher temperatures we should allow some brush clearing and felled log clearing by logging companies to minimize catastrophic fires that are unmanageable as long as it is done with the least amount of environmental impact in these large vast areas. If you liked this post and the photography on my National Parks Tour I would invite you check out my new book and buy on Blurb a direct printing service, to keep this great adventure rolling.
If you have Questions on the book or anything on this topic please feel free to comment below. If you want to donate to the Defense of Bears Ears National Monument fund go to this link https://act.nrdc.org/donate/monuments-appeal-171201?source=WBSNMOPET&_ga=2.5002679.521913668.1513101767-190537161.1513101767