Regarding Eric C. Ewert’s commentary, “For opponents of Utah monuments, it’s not about the facts”:
One of many ironies swirling around the whole Bears Ears flap is that while mitigation efforts that pay workers solid wages and boost rural economies are under way at former mining sites all over Utah under the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, unrestrained poverty-wage tourism promoted by taxpayers to the tune of $20 million per year is beginning to take hold in southern Utah.
In its own way, tourism in an area stressed by long-term drought will be as devastating as the fantasy bogeys writer Ewert and like-minded “environmentalists” are afraid of — fossil fuels (oil and gas drilling has never been economically viable within Bears Ears), uranium (that era has come and gone in Utah) or cattle production (one of the largest historical cattle operations within Bears Ears, Dugout Ranch, is owned by the conservation nonprofit The Nature Conservancy). The current breed of professional, media-savvy environmentalist, which Ewert parrots, seems to believe crammed visitor centers, overlooks, trailheads, camping are good things. Come on down. Bring the kids.
Bears Ears is their playground. Impact on rural life and livelihoods be damned. They’re not paying anything to shore up overloaded infrastructure, mitigate long-term damage to wildlife habitat, or preserve culture and heritage of American Indians and rural Euro-Americans.
Their perspective is a mockery of sustainable tourism, which attempts to minimize negative social, commercial and environmental impacts and enhance the well-being of host communities.
Bill Keshlear, Salt Lake City