This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
I dwell on the flanks of the Grand Staircase. I was drawn here like a bee to a blooming flower attracted to the stunning landscape and the opportunity to make a living. With my husband and two small children, I settled in Kanab in 1994.
We purchased a dilapidated commercial property three blocks from a humble downtown. On one side, a shuttered garage cradled decades of junk. On the other was an abandoned bakery. Old signs from long-defunct enterprises stood like ghosts on either side of our dream. A herd of rusting cars grazed the lot behind ours.
We stripped our small building to its bones and created a shop to sell books, coffee and outdoor gear, opening just in time for Christmas. We underestimated the challenge of business in this diminutive, rural town. A long winter stretched into a long, hard year. While our business slowly grew, our savings quickly shrank.
The following year, 1996, President Clinton invoked the Antiquities Act to proclaim the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It was controversial at the time and remains so. Still, in the couple decades since, I've witnessed positive outcomes for our business, our community and the myriad visitors from around the world that gather here in awe.
Now you can have your car serviced in the garage next door. You can stay in the three-story hotel that replaced the old bakery. Two additional, four-story hotels have opened down the street, and another is under construction. You can breakfast at our delightful new bakery. In fact several new restaurants are thriving, but you'll need a reservation inconceivable 20 years ago! Come morning, a host of outfitters will offer to show you the Grand Staircase.
Meanwhile, the town ushered in a new hospital, school, library and swimming pool. The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the monument, opened a visitor center and a comely administrative center.
Some claim that we would be better off with the coal mine once proposed, even though it would have brought 360 double-trailer trucks through Kanab every 24 hours. That was and is a pipe dream. Coal has gone bust. A few of my neighbors still hope for coal. I don't.
A substantial contingent has risen from our communities to champion the monument. These people represent active businesses that benefit from protected federal lands. They're citizens who live here for quality of life. They dominated our county and city public hearings to demand protection of our national monuments. Some 400 (of Kanab's 4,000) gathered to advocate for the monuments during Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's visit.
He didn't listen. We wrote letters and called, but he refused to speak with us. He talked only with politicians and those they picked. Our Utah politicians haven't listened, either.
Please, speak out. If you live in Utah and support the monuments, you are in our state's majority! Nationwide, over 90 percent of Americans who've commented at our government's site (http://www.regulations.gov) wrote to protect our national treasures.
In his preliminary recommendations for the Bears Ears National Monument, Zinke vaguely suggested parceling out individual sites for elevated protection like a postage stamp collection. He would fracture the landscapes, wildlife corridors and precious watersheds. I fear he'll recommend the same treatment for Grand Staircase-Escalante, putting our regional ecology, quality of life and economy in peril.
We must oppose this heinous attack on our public lands and on the Antiquities Act. Use the website address above to comment by July 10. This land and what it holds is our heritage. This land is your land.
Susan Hand is the co-owner and manager of Willow Canyon Outdoor in Kanab.