By JULIE HOWARD
Concerns of Southern Utah residents about losing the use of public lands with President Clinton’s expected announcement Tuesday, Jan. 11, of a new national monument in northwestern Arizona may be unfounded.
Clinton is expected to announce his creation of the Grand-Parashant National Monument north of the existing Grand Canyon National Park, including more than 1,500 square miles of northwestern Arizona cliffs and canyons, during his visit to the Grand Canyon Jan. 11.
Southern Utah residents are concerned about possible loss of grazing rights in the area in a move that may actually injure the land.
Republican Rep. Jim Hansen, who heads a House subcommittee overseeing parks and public lands, said many of the ranchers that graze cattle in the area live just over the state line in Utah.
“If anything, this designation is a step in the wrong direction and could hurt preservation of this land,” Hansen said. “The president will be taking a piece of land that is remarkably well protected by its remoteness and turn it into a tourist attraction.”
Hansen’s statement hits a nerve that is still raw over Clinton’s creation of the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah in 1996. However, his analysis ignores the U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s December 14 proposal for the Grand-Parashant National Monument.
Babbitt said at his December 14 press conference that the grazing is not an incompatible use of the land in the proposed monument area. “My recommendation to the President … would be that, (like) the Escalante Monument, grazing be continued, subject to good management practices and protecting the bio-diversity of the landscape.”
Michael Carroll, communications coordinator for the Wilderness Support Center, a project of the Wilderness Society, said Hansen’s analysis of the impact of the new monument is inaccurate.
“Although the area has been protected in the past by its remoteness, the land is currently threatened by increasing use of off-road vehicles and possible mining activity,” Carroll said. “We could expect more visitors to a National Monument, but the main danger to the area is not from foot-traffic.”
Professor Larry St. Clair of the botany and range science department said he is delighted with the outcome of what the President has done for the Grand Canyon area. St. Clair has been to the Grand-Parashant area several times, and says it is beautiful, and well worth protecting.
According to St. Clair, Clinton’s mistake has been his high-handed way of issuing executive orders to create new monuments, instead of working with the local people to address their interests and concerns.