Decision day for the national monuments of Utah and its people –

Decision day for the national monuments of Utah and its people


If only the sandstones could sing, imagine the stories they would tell, of the dinosaurs, the mammoth hunters and the "ancient" known as the Anasazi.

Everyone roamed southern Utah for eons, long before Native Americans fought to keep their land against Mormon settlers, modern life and now, Donald Trump.

When the President arrives in Utah on Monday afternoon, this rocky corner of the Wild West is a battlefield once again, but this time the warriors will carry suitcases and lawsuits

During a speech in Salt Lake City, Trump is expected to announce the fate of two national monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, created by Democratic predecessors to protect culture, history and natural beauty.

  President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore pose on the edge of the Grand Canyon, during the signing of a proclamation establishing the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.
It is expected to decrease significantly, to the delight of the locals who see them as nothing more than 3 million acres of federal land appropriation. The drillers, miners and fracking that were excluded by the use of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama from the Antiquities Law would have new concessions in life. Orrin Hatch and his fellow Utah Republicans would get a big win.
  Hoodoos are among the natural wonders of the Bears Ears National Monument.

But those who believe that rocks can speak, through innumerable fossils, sacred ruins and desert solitude, are preparing for a fight.

"I'm going to sue you," says Yvon Chouinard, founder and CEO of equipment manufacturer for outdoor activities Patagonia. "It seems that the only thing that this administration understands is demands, I think it's a shame that only 4% of US lands are national parks, Costa Rica has 10%, Chile will now have more parks than us, we need more, not less. This government is bad and I will not stay behind and let evil win. "

Chouinard led the effort to move an important outdoor show from Salt Lake City to Denver in protest of Utah's land-use policy and has been a great supporter of the historic coalition of the five local tribes that left aside the old rivalries and pressed for the protection of monuments.

  San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman says the designation of Bears Ears as a national monument never felt good.

But his arguments do not influence a pro-Trump and anti-monument rally at Monticello. Here, Chouinard represents all liberal interests abroad, conspiring to confront the neighbor against the neighbor. "What is your net worth? A billion dollars? Two billion?" says San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman. "Here you have Patagonia waving the banner of environmentalism while fully exploiting the outdoors for industrialized tourism … For a person in that position trying to impart morality to one of the poorest counties in the entire nation is wrong."

  There has been an opposition to Bears Ears as a monument since he was appointed.

The size of New Jersey, San Juan is the largest and poorest county in Utah and with this moment of political victory, Lyman finds kinship with the miners of Appalachia.

He notes that Bears Ears is the fifth national park or monument in his county and argues that oil and gas extraction would have less impact on the landscape than the adventure tourism brand that has been transformed near Moab. "By designating a monument, you are using a tool that will bring hordes of people to a place that is very sensitive," he says.

  Mark Maryboy walks in Bears Ears, home of generations of his ancestors.

But according to former Navajo county commissioner and Navajo Mark Maryboy, cultural sensitivity is hard to find in San Juan County. "They did not want to work with us," he says. "In fact, one of the county commissioners told me, 'You lost the war so you do not have to worry about the land planning process.'

With efficient steps, it falls into a canyon near the San Juan River, past one of the 100,000 sacred ruins at Bears Ears, to a wall covered with 1,200-year-old rock art. The thin representations of man and animal are the work of an artist who has been nicknamed "Wolfman" for the signature of the footprint that accompanies the pictoglifos. And then point out the modern bullet holes.

  Ancient rock art is marked by bullet holes.

For your Navajo faith, this canyon contains the spirits of your loved ones and these carvings are as sacred as any art in the Vatican or any wall in Jerusalem, however, someone has been using it to practice shooting.

"Members of the local white community are determined to get rid of all rock art," he says. "It gets in the way of progress, it gets in the way of a job: new cars, new clothes, Rolex watch."

He heard the argument that his people needed work and that the extraction industry could provide them while they protected the most important sites.

  Native Americans built grain stores and other structures in what is now southern Utah.

But you feel, history has not proven to be true.

"The experience that Native Americans see in this county is discrimination," he says. "They are the last to be hired for any position, even if a large mining operation is opened, they will not be hired for that position, and they will be exposed to the toxic materials that remain on the ground or on the ground."

Regardless of Trump's decision and unless Utah politicians can find a way to recover and sell them, the 3 million acres around Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will remain public.

If you are American, this is your land and these are your rocks. Make a visit at some time. You will be surprised by the stories that tell.

Paul Vercammen of CNN and Rachel Clarke contributed to this story.

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