Dear Friends of Grand Staircase,
We, the staff of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, write this message with heavy hearts. Our hearts are heavy because of the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. Our hearts are also heavy because of the violence that ensued during protests that were intended to be a means for people of every race and all walks of life to rise up together in opposition to the police brutality and systemic racism that exist in our country. But this morning, when we met as a staff and discussed the killing of George Floyd and the protests that ensued, it became clear that our hearts are heaviest because this latest act of police violence is indicative of what persists in our country: systemic racism, prejudice, and discrimination.
From healthcare to housing to employment to education to our justice system, being white provides an advantage that is all too often ignored and accepted as the status quo. So, too, is access to public lands, with racial and class privilege influencing who can easily enjoy and feel safe in such spaces. The solutions to inequities in these systems are not limited to fixing the broken justice system or ensuring equal pay or access to housing. If we are going to root out racism, we need to start with ourselves, as individuals, organizations, communities, and as a country. This is also true for justice and equity regarding public lands and conservation work.
Our organization is often referred to as “Partners” because our work, on behalf of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, is done through partnerships with environmental conservation partners, Indigenous people with deep ties to the Grand Staircase region, the Bureau of Land Management, the outdoor recreational industry, the communities of Kanab and Escalante, and visitors from across the globe. We stand in solidarity and in partnership with Black Americans, not just in this moment in history, but in a pledge and a commitment to do our part as an organization and as individuals to see, name, and eliminate racism. We also stand with our Indigenous partners from Paiute, Navajo/Dine, Hopi, Zuni, Ute and Ute Mountain Ute communities. As we strive to take a more active role in unraveling racism and inequity, we ask our nonprofit partners, business partners, and local communities to join us in this effort. Collectively, we can ensure that people of all races and all walks of life feel safe to visit, appreciate, and recreate in the Grand Staircase Escalante region. Internally, we are dedicated to fostering an equitable and inclusive organization and to actualizing our values by modeling them in our everyday work. This commitment is not accomplished through a statement made today, but through the long-term dedication, training, and resources required to reverse the deep-seeded norms that exist in our society. We thank all of our Partners for joining us in this commitment to learning how to recognize systemic racism and seeking opportunities to contribute to a more just and equitable society.
Sarah Bauman, Executive Director
Neak Loucks, Education Coordinator
Brad Murrell, Development and Marketing Director
Jonathan Paklaian, Conservation Programs Manager
Sherry Robinson, Operations Manager
Alex Engel, Field Staff Supervisor Taylor Sanchez, Field Staff Coordinator