Cyclist in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument
President Trump’s Executive Order on the Antiquities Act calls for a review of the national monuments designated over the last 20 years. As an outdoor business owner, I have had a front row seat for many of these monument designations and have seen the on the ground impacts.
In many cases local residents and stakeholders from mountain bikers to energy companies to environmental advocates began the process of updating plans for their public lands by asking for new laws. People worked together to understand each others goals and craft public land legislation that would protect key areas for conservation and recreation, while leaving other places available for development of oil, gas, and mining. And after all the blood, sweat, and tears of negotiating a deal, many communities in the last 20 years were stymied when congress failed to pass their bills.
Hell’s Backbone Grill at the Boulder Mtn Lodge feeds hungry people visiting the surrounding National Parks and National Monuments
You can’t really blame folks if they turned to the President and requested an administrative action in the form of a National Monument Proclamation to achieve virtually the same goals they were seeking through public land legislation. President Trump’s review will find that many communities are quite happy with their National Monuments, not only are they benefiting from outdoor recreation visitors, but they are seeing steady economic growth through new and diverse businesses who want to locate near America’s great outdoors. Competition for top talent is tight, and if you can boast access to everything from hiking and paddling to jeeping, hunting and fishing, plus treasured cultural resources and uniquely American landscapes, your community—and the businesses that locate there— have a competitive advantage.
Pictographs in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument.
In reviewing these monuments, Secretary Zinke is also going to find a few places where people aren’t so happy, and while they are quick to complain about their public land managers, the real source of the problem has little to do with federal land ownership or monument designations. Macro economic forces and technological advances of the 21st century are playing out in commodity prices, and extractive industry jobs are disappearing on both public and private lands, while county budgets suffer due to sharply decreasing mineral royalties.
Western Spirit Cycling Adventures was started to run trips in Canyonlands National Park and today runs trips all thought out many of the country’s National Parks and National Monuments.
Meanwhile, the outdoor recreation industry continues to see steady growth generating $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs. America has a proud history of self sufficiency through living off the land, and our ranchers and coal miners have been major contributors to our country’s progress. Key leaders in congress are trying to find ways to honor this heritage. Pivoting to recreation economy jobs in product design, manufacturing, or retail can be challenging. For that matter, just getting along with the new neighbors can be hard. Change is never easy, but rolling back the clock is downright impossible.
Lower Calf Creek Falls – Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument.
Monument designations jump start recreation economies and bring a wide array of reliable and growing business opportunities to rural residents and their children. This change is playing out in communities across the country whose economic development strategies are paying off precisely because they have set aside public land in its natural state for outdoor recreation.
Riders enjoying the incredible views the National Monument has to offer
If the President wishes to honor his promise to those who have lost their jobs in coal country and other rural areas that have been hurt by a changing economy, he should maintain all of America’s existing monuments, and use the powers of the Antiquities Act to create new ones.