Shrinking Grandstaircase Escalante Monument is Bad for Business


Contact: Suzanne Catlett 801-836-1280

Southern Utah Businesses United in Opposition to Trump Executive Order Shrinking Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is bad for business

Escalante, Utah — December 4 — Today’s announcement from President Trump is another nonconsensual grab by the Trump administration. This time it’s a land grab. And it’s not just an assault on any land: Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is one of America’s best known and most revered national monuments, famous around the world for its natural, cultural and scientific resources. Trump and Zinke’s illegal taking is unprecedented on a national and constitutional level; Congress did not grant through the Antiquities Act the power that Secretary Zinke’s announcement presumes. Presidents may establish monuments, but they cannot revoke them. Moreover, Grand Staircase Escalante’s permanence is even more settled because Congress confirmed and added to its boundaries with the Utah Schools and Lands Exchange Act, which was sponsored by Republican Utah Representative Jim Hansen and signed into law by President George W. Bush.

At the local level, today’s announcement threatens more than just the scientific, cultural and natural elements of Grand Staircase; it imminently imperils the livelihood of locals who live in Escalante and Boulder, UT. And the lack of consent goes beyond a legal, constitutional threshold. It’s personal. Secretary Zinke claimed in his review that he would listen to all sides. Yet Mr. Zinke refused to visit the heart of Grand Staircase, ignoring the business communities of Escalante and Boulder, UT, and denying a formal request for a meeting with the Escalante and Boulder Chamber to discuss the Monument’s economic benefit to the local communities and businesses. A similar silence met the 53 local business owners who wrote unanswered personal letters to Secretary Zinke supporting Grand Staircase in May.

The Escalante & Boulder Chamber of Commerce does not support the shrinking of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Chamber 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. Simply put, the proposed drastic (50%)

shrinkage of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will hurt our businesses and the families they support, wiping out what has been built over the last 21 years in our community.

Chamber President Suzanne Catlett concluded, “As business people who make a living in the Escalante Boulder region of Utah, we can tell you from firsthand experience that since the protection of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, our local economy in Escalante and Boulder has grown and is thriving.”

The direct damage of Secretary Zinke’s announcement goes beyond just hurting businesses that cater to tourists. Rather, the entire economy in the Escalante-Boulder area has diversified and grown as a result of the Monument. Software professionals who work remotely, retirees, and farmers have all been drawn to this area where they invest economically and in the futures of their families.

Another business owner and member of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, expressed frustration at the process. “At the outset, Secretary Zinke signaled in his press release that kicked off his so-called ‘review,’ just how conclusory that review would be by stating that Grand Staircase and Bears Ears ‘book-ended’ supposed ‘overreach,’” said local business owner, Ben Blaugrund. “Sure enough, Zinke confirmed that the review was a charade by dismissing more than 99% of public comments in favor of maintaining existing monuments as the product of a ‘well-orchestrated national campaign.’ Since when do 99% of anyone in this country agree on anything?! And what we know is truly well orchestrated, but not public are the oil, gas and mining industries’ lobbying efforts. It’s quite telling that Zinke and Trump won’t talk about that swamp. Don’t kid yourself: this is about mining and oil--the new boundaries overlay with state oil and gas geologic maps--not recreation, hunting and fishing or the longevity and economic health of our local communities.” Mr. Blaugrund concluded, “This is nothing more than a transfer of public lands from individuals to extractive industry corporations and a snuffing out small local business owners who wrongly believed they were protected by a government comprised of laws and not personal caprice.”

National monuments are a critical part of the nation’s economy, especially for communities like Escalante and Boulder that benefit from the tourism, outdoor recreation and quality of life associated with their local monument. A 2017 study by nonpartisan Headwaters Economics found that the regional economies adjacent to 17 national monuments in the American West all experienced growth following the monument’s designation.

Important economic indicators - population, employment, personal income, and per-capita income - also increased across the board. Here in Utah, the population of the regions

surrounding Grand Staircase National Monuments grew by 13% respectively, and jobs grew a respective 24% percent since their monument designations.

National monuments are tremendous drivers of the outdoor recreation economy, and businesses rely on the permanency of these protections when making decisions about investing in our communities. Outdoor recreation in our state generates approximately 691,000 jobs and $92 billion in consumer spending each year.

The Escalante & Boulder Chamber of Commerce encourages all Americans to fight this illegal taking. Grand Staircase Escalante, like the constitution, belongs to everyone.

# # # About Escalante Boulder Chamber of Commerce

The Escalante and Boulder Utah Chamber of Commerce provides information that is helpful to people planning a visit to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and our region. In recent years the towns of Escalante and Boulder have grown with many new businesses, services and attractions. Our communities offer B & B's, vacation homes, motels, cabins, RV campgrounds & camping spaces. We also have a great variety of restaurants & coffee shops, guide services for fishing, camping, back country hiking, tour & shuttle services, as well as ATV, jeep and bicycle rentals, as well as, church services.

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