Jake Quilter, a 16 year old Filmmaker from Park City Utah created this beautiful video showing the immense support for our monuments:
Utah Residents Oppose Stewart’s ‘Grand Staircase Giveway’ Bill
Today, 700 letters in opposition to Representative Chris Stewart’s “Grand Staircase Giveaway” bill (HR 4558) were delivered to the Public Lands subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee.
Within a week of the bill being introduced, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, a local non-profit organization, saw an outpouring of opposition to Rep. Stewart’s bill. Of the 700 letters, more than half were from Utah and, specifically, 238 were from residents of the small communities in Southern Utah where the monument is located.
“Our congressional delegation has repeatedly failed to listen to local residents who are benefitting immensely from living next door to a world-famous American national monument. We were stunned by the volume of letters,” said Nicole Croft, Executive Director of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners. “But we weren’t at all surprised by the community’s message for Rep. Stewart and President Trump: Leave Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument alone.”
The letters were submitted as part of a legislative hearing in the Public Lands subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. Stewart’s “Grand Staircase Giveaway” bill proposes to make permanent President Trump’s recent proclamation to reduce the national monument in size by 46 percent. The bill would give away 100,000 acres of federal public lands to the state of Utah, and lease lands eliminated from the monument for coal mining and other industrial development.
“Both the President’s action against the national monument and Rep. Stewart’s sham of a bill are deeply unpopular and show great disrespect for our community, our local economy and our region’s scientific, cultural and natural resources,” stated Croft.
**Partners Files Suit to Overturn Trump’s Proclamation **
Groups Announce Lawsuit Challenging the Trump Administration’s Executive Order to Eliminate Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument**
The Conservation Lands Foundation, Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, represented pro bono by the law firm Covington & Burling, announced on December 4th, 2017 that they jointly filed suit in federal court to overturn President Trump’s proclamation dismantling Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and carving it into small pieces representing about half of the area protected by the original, 21-year-old national monument.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is one of the world’s hotbeds of paleontological research and discovery, world-class destination for recreation and natural beauty, and is a major economic driver for small businesses in the area. The proclamation signed today by President Trump is an attack on protected public lands that is illegal, unprecedented in U.S. history, and opposed by a majority of Americans who share ownership of our public lands.
Nicole Croft, Executive Director, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners: “The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is deeply woven into the fabric of the communities that surround it. It is the cornerstone of our celebrations and economic engine. Further, it is the enduring symbol of the American West, and one of the last American frontiers. It is a frontier of science, of unparalleled natural wonder, and of the human soul. Changing the boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is unpopular in Utah and all over America. This action gambles with the robust economy thriving in challenging rural communities, threatens our future understanding of the Colorado Plateau and robs future generations of one of our most majestic wild places.”**
Brian Sybert, Executive Director, Conservation Lands Foundation: “This is as bad as we expected, based on the lies and misrepresentations that we have heard throughout Secretary Zinke’s sham ‘review.’ This Administration will stop at nothing to ensure that their private industry cronies can profit from the destruction of even our most highly valued public lands, to the point of undoing protections that have been in place for two decades. We look forward to fighting this indefensible and illegal order in the courts—where facts still matter.”
David Polly, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology: “The rock layers of the Monument are like pages in an ancient book—if half of them are ripped out, the plot is lost. After two decades of back-breaking field science we are still discovering new chapters like last year’s horned dinosaur Machairoceratops or this year’s nearly complete tyrannosaur Teratophoneus. The Antiquities Act was established to protect places of world-class scientific importance and that is exactly what Grand Staircase is.”
About Conservation Lands Foundation: The non-profit Conservation Lands Foundation is the only organization in the country dedicated solely to protecting, restoring and expanding the National Conservation Lands so they will endure from generation to generation. The National Conservation Lands are 36 million acres of protected public lands, rivers and trails, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, that stand proudly alongside our national parks and wildlife refuges, protecting our nation’s heritage and helping drive the country’s $887 billion outdoor recreation economy. www.ConservationLands.org
About Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners: Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, the official “Friends” organization for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, is committed to preserving and protecting the vast landscape of the National Monument for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
About Society of Vertebrate Paleontology: Founded in 1940, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is a diverse organization of nearly 2,200 scientists, students, artists, preparators, advocates, writers and scholars across the globe, who are dedicated to the study, discovery, interpretation and preservation of vertebrate fossils.
Trump’s Proclamation to Shrink Grand Staircase-Escalante
Southern Utah Residents Decry Trump Administration’s Dismantling of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument President Trump’s action is the largest attack on America’s public lands in U.S. history**
Escalante, Utah — December 4, 2017— Today, President Trump signed a presidential proclamation dismantling one the nation’s most well-known national monuments protected for its natural, cultural and scientific resources. Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners joins conservationists, business leaders, science communities and countless Utahns in denouncing this action, and will do everything in its power to see it protected for future generations.
Today’s action by the president exposes the discretionary nature of the Interior Department’s review that preceded it, and the extent to which these determinations were made based on Interior Secretary Zinke’s ever-evolving, personal criteria.
“For over 20 years, countless volunteers from the community, business owners, schools kids, youth corps members, ranchers, scientists, historians and professional land managers have worked hand in hand to make this national monument a success and a critical economic engine for southern Utah,” said Nicole Croft, Executive Director of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners. “The Grand Staircase Escalante-National Monument is intricately woven into the fabric of our communities. This arbitrary review and illegal action will not go unchallenged.”
“National monuments like Grand Staircase Escalante help define who we are as a nation and as Utahns. Millions of people from all over the world have come to explore the Grand Staircase-Escalante and few leave unchanged. The dramatic landscapes, the visible history of the earth through stunning geology, the frontier experience of quietly exploring a canyon or bend of the Escalante river allow one to feel that they may be the first to ever behold such wild beauty. The experience of exploration, wonder and humility at the grandeur of the natural world is one our children, and their children deserve, and that is what this administration is trying to rob from our future” asserted Croft.
“Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was established largely for its scientific and educational resources, and is the first monument of its kind in the country,” said Christa Sadler, paleontologist, geologist and author. “The fossils were a huge part of the impetus to create the monument, which has one of the finest and most important records in the world from the Late Cretaceous, the time near the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. The extraordinarily diverse and well-preserved dinosaurs and other fossil remains are world famous, and researchers come from around the country and around the globe to study them. What these fossils can teach us about this ancient world may also be important in helping us understand something about our future world as well.”
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument also provides a sanctuary for an overwhelming majority of the biodiversity found in the state of Utah.
“Habitats specifically identified in the Monument proclamation support regionally rare or unique species, making the Monument ecologically distinctive,” said ecologist Dr. Michael Scott. “This uniqueness derives from the geologic, topographic and hydrologic diversity of the Monument as well as its physical location on the Colorado Plateau.”
“These presidential proclamations mark yet another incident of the Trump administration playing games with America’s public lands and economy,” said Noel Poe, Volunteer Board President of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners. “Approximately 2.7 million Americans responded during the comment period with over 98% supporting maintaining and expanding the national monuments. At 9:1 Utahns supported leaving Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears alone.”
Poe concluded, “If the Secretary and President truly believe local input is critical, why didn’t they listen to and abide by it? This review has made a mockery of the decades of work invested by local communities to protect these places for future generations.”
The gateway communities of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument responded strongly as well. In the early days of the comment period, nearly 200 letters were submitted from community members and concerned citizens. On May 10, 2017, nearly over 350 local residents spanning the gateway communities to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument came together in Kanab, Utah to welcome Secretary Zinke to the Grand Staircase. Though we were literally begging Secretary Zinke to “talk with us,” he formally declined to meet with the Escalante-Boulder Chamber of Commerce, and refused to respond to requests from Grand Staircase Escalante Partners or a single pro-national monument business, include the 100+ guides whose livelihood depends entirely on the protections the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument enjoys.
Today continues the Administration’s tradition of undermining the Antiquities Act, one of the nation’s most important conservation tools. The Antiquities Act was signed by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 to safeguard and preserve U.S. public lands and cultural and historical sites for all Americans to enjoy. Sixteen presidents — eight Republicans and eight Democrats — have used this authority to protect many of California’s iconic landscapes, from Muir Woods National Monument in Northern California to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California.
Despite today’s actions, credible legal scholars agree that President Trump does not have the legal authority to eliminate or alter national monuments. Today’s action will be immediately challenged in court, since the Antiquities Act does not grant the president the authority to eliminate or significantly alter a national park or national monument.
**Trump Administration tells Senator Hatch the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will be shrunk for him, despite local and national support. **
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument belongs in equal measure to all the citizens of our nation. If the Trump Administration acts as predicted in recent media reports, dissolving the current boundaries of the Monument, in violation of law and over the objection of millions of concerned citizens, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners will honor their pledge to defend this national treasure by seeking the reversal of those actions by all legal means, including judicial action along with our national conservation and scientific colleagues. The creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was an earnest act of stewardship, an important word and action in Utah’s history. The 1996 Presidential action followed our country’s long, rich and bipartisan tradition of protecting unique landscapes, which is one of the defining characteristics of our great nation. For a brief moment in time, we followed that tradition, believing in ourselves that we were strong enough, rich enough, and brave enough to preserve a portion of our national landscape for the benefit of future generations. Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, an organization specifically created to support the mission of the Monument, is pledged to protect and preserve the Monument. We recognize a solemn obligation to stand and defend the principle that future generations should be able to experience the quiet whisper of water flowing in a desert canyon, to discover a shard of dinosaur bone-now-rock, to chance upon the shadowed ruins of its first people, to hear the sound of silence, and to witness dark skies in a pristine, primitive setting.