A Letter from Board President, John Holland

Sep 17, 2021 | Newsroom

Photo by Jeffrey Sipress of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

A Letter from Board President, John Holland

25th Anniversary Message and Board Member Appeal

Dear Friends of Grand Staircase,

This week Grand Staircase Escalante Partners joins the BLM and our supporters, donors, volunteers, and partners in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM).

A quarter-century of national monument status deserves a moment of reflection on where we have arrived, where we came from, and where we expect to be in another 25 years. 

When established, the Monument opened a new era of land conservation for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Monument managers were directed to create management plans that prioritized the protection of scientific resources — ecological, archaeological, paleontological, and biological. These plans led to unprecedented cooperation among stakeholders, along with a significant financial investment in both private and public enterprises.

Grand Staircase Escalante Partners was established in 2004 as a “Friends” group to GSENM to support the scientific research and educational activities carried out by the BLM. A spirit of collaboration propelled us forward, and significant partnerships blossomed with the BLM, citizens, visitors, and other conservation organizations.

Since its inception, the Monument suffered from an annual depletion of financial resources, staff cuts, and long-term vacancies in science-based positions. Due to this severe lack of resources, the Monument’s full science potential has never been achieved. 

Finally, in 2017, the incredibly damaging actions taken by President Trump to shrink GSENM by nearly a million acres and the hasty adoption of a new management plan — focused on development, not conservation — effectively skewed our partnerships, rearranged our priorities, and increased our role in advocacy for this magnificent place.

Reaching the 25th birthday milestone, GSENM is old enough to recognize what’s important and to set priorities for the future. 

Here’s what I see for the next twenty-five years.

Grand Staircase Escalante Partners will continue our work with the BLM with a focus on the following initiatives.

  • Restoring the protections of GSENM to its original size and the adoption of a new management plan focused on its ecological and climate science mission is our first priority. We are redefining our science mission objectives to support the transition back to science and conservation at GSENM.
  • Supporting the BLM’s ability to carry out a critical conservation mission by helping to increase resources, including the return of science-based staff (e.g., botanists, biologists) and funding for research projects, and practicing “on the ground” collaboration with the agency on conservation organizations. 
  • Reawakening and expanding national public support for the Monument and the entire national conservation lands — with a vision to grow and enhance environmental justice, equitable access for all, and enable a diversity of stakeholders with a clear invitation to Indigenous peoples to participate fully as they would like in traditional uses and management planning and implementation on their ancestral lands.

With these commitments, we are also seeking to increase our capacity at a leadership level to achieve our mission to honor the past and safeguard the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through science, conservation, and education

Our goal is to increase capacity by an invitation for people to apply to serve on our Board of Directors. We are seeking people from all walks of life with rich and diverse experiences who love Grand Staircase. As a board member, you will help shape the next 25 years of our work and ensure that our organization — as the only nonprofit dedicated solely to this landscape — does the best possible job to honor the land for today and into the future. To apply, please review the Board of Directors’ Roles and Responsibilities, then submit your letter of interest by email to john@gsenm.org.

Please contact me directly with any questions or ideas you may have about our leadership opportunities or our work. 

Together, we will honor the land and learn its lessons

Sincerely,

John Holland

Board President for Grand Staircase Escalante Partners

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