Ron Wackowski: Multi-use concept for public lands misused |

Ron Wackowski: Multi-use concept for public lands misused

And so it begins …

Recently, it was announced that a Canadian mining company, Glacier Lake Resources, Inc., is going to explore for minerals in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This is on land that President Trump and his administration have said they are removing from the monument. According to the company’s press release, “Surface exploration work will start this summer on the Colt Mesa property and drill permitting will be initiated shortly.”

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — and Bears Ears National Monument — received overwhelming public support during the comment period for the Interior Department’s “review” of sizes of national monuments designated over the past two decades. This study was requested by President Trump.

Despite public support, the department issued a — what I believe was a pre-arrived at — decision to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears. Apparently, lobbying of Secretary Zinke by companies wanting to reap profits from these national monuments overrode citizen comments.

I was curious where Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton stood on this issue. I have given up receiving a reply from Sen. Gardner on my questions. I called Tipton’s office and asked a “yes” or “no” question: “Does Congressman Tipton support President Trump’s reduction in size of national monuments?” No one there could answer this question, so I requested a return phone call. I waited …

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Finally, I received an email from the Congressman’s office that thanked me for taking the time to contact him “about the preservation of our National Parks lands.”

The email stated that Tipton “… supports a balanced approach to public lands use, respecting the environment that we all deeply value, while making the best use of natural resources on public lands.” Who can argue with this? It also stated that “Recreation, preservation, and the exploration of resources are all important aspects of the multiple-use management for which these lands are intended.”

In my opinion, the multiple-use concept is one of the most misused in public land policy today. When was the last time you went recreating near a mining or logging operation?

I do not believe multiple use was intended to suggest that all areas are equally open to all uses all the time. It means that our public lands as a whole support many uses, which they do. National parks and monuments are created to protect areas and provide for an overriding single use, such as solitude, recreation or preservation of cultural resources.

The Congressman stated that it was his goal “… to create win-win scenarios rather than pit groups against one another” and to use “… a common sense approach.” Again, it is certainly hard to argue with this. Further, he was “…confident we can make the most of our public lands and preserve their pristine nature for generations to come.” This is the statement requiring a wait-and-see stance. I am not confident.

Nowhere in the email was my question asking if he supported the reduction in national monument size answered. Therefore, I called back and asked for a reply. I am still waiting.

Therefore, I have only the Congressman’s email to base my decision upon. My conclusion: Tipton supports the recent actions to shrink national monuments in order to support extraction industry profits. In addition, as so often seems to happen with Tipton, he prefers to keep his policy positions to himself and force his constituents to read between the lines.

Ron Wackowski

Steamboat Springs

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