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Utah's congressional delegation may want to think again about pulling monument status from Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears. According to the 49 business leaders of the Escalante Chamber of Commerce, member businesses are having "record" years, and the surge in activity is due directly to the notion that "Grand Staircase Escalante (is) being discovered."

"The Monument is the city's biggest asset and is not the source of its problems," affirmed Dennis Waggoner, president of the chamber, in a report hand-delivered to Utah's congressional delegation. Board members insist there is no lack of economic activity nor jobs in Escalante. In fact, just the opposite: Escalante is in the midst of a labor shortage that is driving up wages.

These business leaders believe the protective federal management of the surrounding public lands is directly responsible for their ongoing and increasing success. New construction in Escalante is at an all-time high, with businesses struggling to keep up with demand. And secondary, non-tourist-oriented businesses are popping up as economic activity increases and diversifies.

It would be a pity if all this economic progress ground to a halt over Utah's officials' knee-jerk reactions to anything federal.

Marjorie McCloy

Salt Lake City