On the EDge: Utah continues disdain for environment

The Bears Ears Buttes framed with summer wild flowers, Bears Ears Buttes, Date not given | Photo by Tim Peterson (Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition), St. George News

OPINION – I remember standing on a rise above Parowan Gap one cool autumn day about 15 years ago.

It was one of those picture-perfect Southern Utah days with a vast, beautiful blue sky, a gentle breeze and a vista that went on for miles and miles.

About a dozen people were gathered for the release of a golden eagle that had been rehabilitated by Martin Tyner, who has provided a lifetime of gentle care to the creatures of the wild, nursing them lovingly to health.

I’ve seen him take sick or injured animals — from tiny owls to a coyote once — heal them and then release them to their natural habitat.

Whether a hairy tarantula or a magnificent bald eagle, he nurtures them, heals them, gives them strength and returns them to their homes in the wild.

There is a splendor, a certain beauty, attached to his selfless efforts, a gentle touch that softens a harsh world.

On that day at the Parowan Gap, before a local dignity returned this spectacular golden eagle to the wild, I stood on the rise, looking to the west.

There were no cars, homes or obstructions as I gazed into what seemed like forever.

It was one of those moments of solitude I treasure, a communion with nature and its vivid beauty, an understanding of its vulnerability.

I heard footsteps behind me and turned to see a local real estate guy whom I had known for a few years walking up to join me.

“Gorgeous day,” I said.

“Yes it is,” he said.

“Isn’t that incredible?” I asked.

The real estate guy paused for a moment.

He put one hand on my shoulder, then gestured out to the flat plain below with the other.

“You know what the difference is between you and me?” he asked. “You come up here and see eagles, the petroglyphs, big, open spaces. I see condos, strip malls and high-end houses.”

It was a soulless, crass admission of greed and a lack of understanding about our fragile environment, our tenuous connection to nature and our history as caretakers of a land badly bruised and broken by those who squander its beauty and resources.

Utah has a terrible record when it comes to wilderness, environmental issues and preserving sites important to humankind.

It is trying yet again to go into battle with the federal government to quash a proposal to designate 1.9 million acres in the Four Corners area known as Bears Ears as a national monument.

Naturally, Utah’s elected officials — Gov. Gary Herbert, U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, the state’s House delegation and Utah County Commissioner Rebecca Benally — have delivered a letter to President Obama that opposes the creation of Bears Ears National Monument.

Aware of the current political climate as the GOP continues to hold our government hostage to achieve its petty aims, the tribal people of the area have gone directly to President Obama requesting the designation be made through the 1906 Antiquities Act, which would allow him to declare the site a national monument without congressional approval. It is, according to tribal representatives, the first time native tribes have directly petitioned a president for such action.

It is the only sensible thing to do.

If the Republicans won’t give a valid, serious nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court a chance — even a guy Senate ancient Hatch has previously said would be a good nominee — what chance does a cultural issue have before these guys, especially when the cultural impact is on a group of people who do not hold a serious edge in the voting booth? I mean, if a bunch of rich white industrialists were looking to designate the area as a national monument — which would never happen, the way — it would be certain to pass, because guys like Hatch, Gov. Herb, Lee and the others would have their pockets stuffed with campaign dollars, and it would happen in a heartbeat.

Bears Ears is a place of ancestral homes and sacred places, petroglyphs, areas of untouched beauty and solace. It is a sanctuary for those seeking healing, peace, a connection to a distant past.

But vandals have looted its artifacts, and Big Oil has tried to strip its resources.

There are few things as important or precious to us as our environment. Even some of the most diehard conservatives are finally, grudgingly, admitting that global warming and pollution are taking a toll on the planet.

There are also few things as important as our heritage, and our heritage is inextricably connected to certain places.

Would we tear down The Alamo to build a strip mall?

Would we chisel into the side of Mount Rushmore to build some high-dollar condos?

Would we dig up Gettysburg to build a subdivision?

Then why would we allow others to mar a land like Bears Ears that is sacred to a culture that has already been robbed of so much of its heritage?

Of course, it has nothing to do with a much more modern heritage and culture shared by Herbert, Hatch and the rest of the Utah contingency.

And that is the problem.

People of that ilk do not understand the sadness that occurs when their heritage is disrespected, whether through ignorance or bigotry, because it doesn’t impact them.

But I guarantee that Hatch, Herbert and their lot would be knocking on the White House door demanding presidential intervention if oil reserves were found under Temple Square and the oil companies were bidding to take over the property, knock down the buildings and commence drilling.

Bears Ears is just as important to the more than 13 tribes that can trace their lineage to the area.

We owe it to them to do all we can to preserve their heritage.

We owe it to the rest of us to preserve a place of beauty.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Paul Jensen May 3, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Ed’s going off the edge again. Has Ed even been out there? I have and it’s in such a remote area that there is not going to be any strip malls or any other development going on out there. Are we beholding to native Americans to the point that we are required to kowtow to them every time they claim a location to be an ancestral home and sacred place? Because even though it may sound good to Ed or the liberal news media, from what I’ve seen of the native american’s approach to how they take care of their ancestral homes and sacred places could use some looking at. Case in point, Canyon de Chelly National Monument which is located on the Navajo Reservation. This has been marketed and turned into a tourist destination by the tribe who give tours into the canyon at an exorbitant price. The parking lot where tourists park is left unattended and car windows are smashed so that the contents can be burglarized by tribal members. The trails leading into the canyon smell of human feces that occur due to the people who say they hold this land sacred.
    My thought is that those who are petitioning President Obama to name this area as a National Monument are doing it with the intention of turning it into a tourist destination which will draw more people into the area than have ever thought of going there before. As it stands at present, this land is hardly accessible, but let it become a National Monument and watch the development that takes place. Leave it alone and it will stay as it has for the past millenniums.

  • RealMcCoy May 3, 2016 at 10:52 am

    A lot of assumptions in this slanted article, ed. There are good points in here, but once again you ruin the story with your rhetoric.
    “the GOP continues to hold our government hostage to achieve its petty aims”
    “if a bunch of rich white industrialists were looking to designate the area as a national monument — which would never happen, the way…”
    “I guarantee that Hatch, Herbert and their lot would be knocking on the White House door demanding presidential intervention”
    Where are the digs at the democrats? The liberals? The special interest groups shoving ‘tolerance’ down this nations throat?
    Why don’t you just start each of your articles with this disclaimer:
    “My name is ed, and I suffer from ‘white guilt’. I hate Republicans, the GOP, and anyone or anything that has an opinion other than my own. I take guilty pleasure in writing these opinion columns to troll the readers, then anguish when they disagree with me. I will vote for bernie sanders for president, because my white guilt compels me to. I would vote for hillary, but she is too masculine for my taste.”
    Try talking out of your mouth instead of your ass sometime, ed.
    You might get a little respect that way.

    • .... May 3, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      LOL. ! The joke of the day. Ha ha ha ha I’m still laughing wow this is to much ha ha ha that’s funny. …it really is ! you preaching about getting respect. …Hey Ed don’t listen to this guy ! LOL !

      • RealMcCoy May 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

        You mean it’s TOO much, dotboy? YOU’RE the resident comment-clown. We all look forward to YOUR comments, and how much you wish you could kneel forever in front of your god, ed.

        • .... May 4, 2016 at 9:32 am

          H.A.V.E a nice day mcKnob. LOL. !

    • mesaman May 3, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      I believe I’ve heard the story about the real estate developer and the tree hugger at least ten times, Ed. You made it up, now didn’t you?

      • .... May 4, 2016 at 9:34 am

        I heard the story about the Village idiot and the tree hugger from Mesa several times. .and it’s true isn’t it ?

  • kurtballard13 May 3, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Ed, I have a wonderful idea. How about you leave Utah and never return ? Your liberal ways don’t work here. We don’t want any more Natl. monuments, liberal douchebags don’t have any business telling us what to do with OUR state land. Especially when all they want it for is to rape, pillage and plunder all of OUR natural resources, because that’s exactly what they’re doing and I have proof.

    I’ll bet you a $100 bucks there is uranium at the “Bears Ears” site, lots of uranium. Look at the land studies Ed. What do you think the FEDS want the Red River Valley for ? What do you think they want the Hammond Ranch in Oregon for ? What do you think is under the surface of the Grand Staircase ? I’ll tell you Ed, URANIUM, GOLD, SILVER, THORIUM, and many others. All of the Natl. monuments in the west have one thing in common, large deposits of URANIUM.

    Here you go Ed, you study up pal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWLmufWmTHA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq41pU7f5QI

    You write with liberal bias, that’s “ILK” Ed, the topics you write about you have no business writing about, none whatsoever. When your family goes 9 generations deep in Utah, when your family pulled handcarts 2000 miles or more with half of them dying along the way your opinion might be asked for. You haven’t earned the right to speak for WE THE UTAH PEOPLE, not even close “PAL”.

    You watch listen to the links I provided Ed. TELL THE TRUTH !

    • Accountable May 3, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      You are spot on kurtballard13. It’s all about exploiting the minerals for the Clintons’ and their criminal ilk’s profits. Always follow the money.

      • Curtis May 5, 2016 at 9:51 am

        The Clinton’s will have to stand in line to profit from the mineral resources in the proposed Bears Ears monument. Mike Noel and Ken Ivory and their ilk are first in line.

  • cmydob May 3, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I agreed with a lot of what you had to say. However, your assumptions and stereotyping weakened your points. They made me want to tune out. It started to sound like the liberal version of our Constitutional wackos and their conspiracy theories. I pushed through your article because you made some valid arguments.

  • godisdead May 3, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    I get so sick of you so-called native Utahns. Citizens in the United States saw your religion as corrupt and chased your child raping ancestors west. Your ancestors arrived with no respect for the real natives in “Deseret”. The natives were chased off their lands, were sometimes slaughtered, and even called Laminites ! Your ancesters were obviously the dregs of society who passed on their gullible genes to you.
    Just because someone moved to Utah later than your exiled relatives, doesn’t mean they are wrong about real Christian ideals. Your people have used their religion to condemn, ostracise, rape, and pillage, and you are no different.
    It’s so easy and common for you to say others have no right to speak up and if they don’t like it, move away. What a bunch of crap from self proclaimed Christians.

    • Paul Jensen May 3, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Ah shut … up. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Brigham Young’s stand was that it was easier and cheaper to feed the Indians than to fight them. So that’s what they did, and it worked pretty well. You are the poster child for “Can’t fix stupid and Haters gonna hate.”
      Ed. ellipsis.

    • mesaman May 3, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      I do hope you are sick enough to leave for a climate better suited for your sick, anxious life. “If you don’t like it move”. You couldn’t be stupid enough to not know what it would be like when you moved here, now could you?

    • .... May 4, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Well at least you know how the RealMcCoy is. .your comment is spot on !

  • tcrider May 3, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    well written article Ed,
    As usual the white eyes are up in arms about anything you write that clashes with their beliefs in their narrow minded world.
    Their narrow minded world is based on the book, and they will follow it, even if means ruining the planet.
    Many of the narrow minded good people of Utah think they are different than the people in all other parts of the U.S. , but
    they have the same exact traits of greed and corruption as any in this country, the only difference is the book will have them
    put a temple up in every square mile of development and this will make it ok.

    • RealMcCoy May 3, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      If you pull your head up from ed’s lap for a minute, you might notice that there are plenty of NON-mormons that disagree with ed. It has nothing to do with someone being a mormon.
      Some of us just disagree with ed’s liberally skewed view of the world. He left California for change, but came here to Utah and wants the same liberal policies here that he left behind.
      This article has focused on what is on TOP of the ground, but forgot to ask what was UNDER the ground that the feds really want ‘protected’.
      Kurtballard13 summed it up pretty well with his comment: “All of the Natl. monuments in the west have one thing in common, large deposits of URANIUM.”

      • tcrider May 3, 2016 at 9:19 pm

        real mcKnob,
        it is not the left against the right, or vice versa, and if you want to categorize everyone you disagree with, then
        you really need to pull your head out of your behind.
        your very life will probably be cut short because of some micro-organisms that are being exposed from melting glaciers, and being carried by migratory birds and the end result is the strains of different influenzas’ are progressively
        getting a lot worse each flu season, its probably natures way of getting rid of the ignorant and idiotic.
        But the sad part is a lot of good elderly people die also.

        • RealMcCoy May 4, 2016 at 12:36 pm

          No one said anything about ‘left vs right’. No one was talking about ‘melting glaciers’. No one was talking about migratory birds killing off the populace.
          We’re talking about URANIUM, and whatever else is under the ground that the feds want to ‘protect’.
          Pull your own head out and read up on why influenzas’ are getting worse every year- it’s due to the overuse of antibiotics that are creating super-strains of viruses.
          If it was really natures way of getting rid of the ignorant and idiotic, you would have been taken out long ago by a simple sneeze to the face.

          • tcrider May 4, 2016 at 8:32 pm

            real stupid Mcnutjob,
            your the one who needs to read the article, your constant conspiracy theories get pretty old,
            the evil government blablabla, your worried the government will profit from the land?
            I personally think all of this land should be turned over to all native american tribes in the proximities,
            and charge you double if you ever visit it.

          • RealMcCoy May 5, 2016 at 11:40 am

            You just keep drinking the koolaid, kid. YOU’RE a good little sheep.
            The government should not profit from the land in private party deals. It is the PEOPLE’S land.
            As for your opinions, it’s a good thing they don’t matter to anyone above dotboy’s mentality…
            Ed. ellipsis: …*

          • .... May 5, 2016 at 6:03 pm

            Ha ha you got edited realmcnutjob

        • mesaman May 4, 2016 at 7:38 pm

          Hallucinating more now than in the past? Ask your doctor for a prescription of clozapine, it might work.

          • .... May 5, 2016 at 6:05 pm

            Mesaman that’s good advice but it would be better advice if you followed your own advice

  • .... May 4, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha you called him mcKnob. your comment is right on the dime …we just let him think we actually care what he thinks. ..

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