Coalition challenges San Rafael plan
The Utah Shared Access Alliance has asked Gov. Mike Leavitt to delay forwarding the proposal for a San Rafael national monument to President George Bush until questions about the legality and appropriateness of the designation are fully considered.
In a letter to the governor, the motorized recreation coalition pointed out that most stakeholders - including local residents - did not find out a monument was being contemplated until the matter was introduced during a meeting on Jan. 26. Leavitt formally announced the proposal on Jan. 28.
"The governor forgot to ask if the concept of a monument designation is the proper way to address the issues," indicated Brian Hawthorne, USA-ALL director. "I attended the meeting on the 26th. I and others left with a clear impression that Utahns would have time to comment on the question of whether to forward the proposal on to the president. I was shocked when the governor announced the formalization of the request just 48 hours later during the state of the state speech."
The monument concept is a radically different outcome than stakeholders expected after years of debating the issue, according to the group.
"It seems to me, the governor is so eager to prove that monuments can be done right with this process he forgot to ask if he should," continued the coalition director. "Our concerns are serious and fundamental to the concept of a monument designation."
USA-ALL believes the issues must be discussed throughout the state before the president receives the request.
"The Antiquities Act does not give the president authority to change management plans simply because some local citizens want him to. The act clearly limits what a president can designate as a national monument and the amount of land that can be reserved as part of that monument. It is essential that we stick close to the letter and intent of the law," maintained Hawthorne.
The coalition letter urges Leavitt to conduct a series of briefings across the state to solicit public comments before moving forward on the San Rafael proposal.