Letter to the Editor: County should meet with environmentalists
After reading the letter written by my friend Guido Rachiele in a recent issue of the Sun Advocate, I felt I must respond.
I usually agree with what he says and have been impressed with the choices he has made in the past, but I believe he is misguided in his beliefs about the proposed gas-well drilling in Nine Mile Canyon.
I'm not sure whom the "environmentalists" are he mentions in his letter. Those of us battling to protect the canyon are not radicals, nor are we necessarily environmentalists. I believe we are a group of folks battling to preserve a unique piece of local and national history.
Nine Mile Canyon is unique in the county, state, and maybe even in the country, in the amount of prehistory and history it has to offer. That began 10,000 years ago, and continued until yesterday. The prehistoric Indians first called it home, and they left their homes and rock art (petroglyphs and pictographs) lining its beautiful canyon walls. The Desert Archaic people, the Fremonts, and the Utes all left fascinating rock art panels for us to look at and wonder about, though we know little about their meaning and even the experts battle about the stories they tell.
Nine Mile is one of very few places where the rock art is so easily accessed and compared, and in such quantity. It holds the potential of containing the Rosetta Stone for interpreting their meaning.
The next phase for Nine Mile concerns the outlaws and farmers. Preston Nutter used to hire the outlaws as cowboys during their "cooling off' periods between bank heists and railroad robberies. Nutter himself left a lasting legacy for us to read about and ponder. People like the Wimmers, Daltons, Houskeepers and current residents Ben and Myrna Mead typify a determined bunch of ranchers and farmers who lived in the canyon bottom, and tried to make a living in it.
The road in the canyon was constructed by a troop of Calvary soldiers, black soldiers called Buffalo Soldiers by the Native Americans. The Calvary was sent to man Fort Duchesne after the Ute Indians were finally forced to live on the reservation away from their in the hands of the many tourists coming to Price and Carbon County to learn about its fascinating and complex history. Nine Mile gets more requests for information from tourists coming to Carbon County than any other place. I, personally, have guided hundreds of tourists through the canyon. They have come from Europe, and from many states in the nation and many counties in Utah. They nearly all say they have seen nothing else like it.
John Veverka, the man who wrote the interpretive plan for the canyon, said he has worked on interpretive plans for many world heritage sites, and Nine Mile holds more important history than many of them. Quite a statement!
Are we trying to stop the drilling in the Nine Mile Canyon area? Probably not, we are simply trying to prevent drilling from ruining the canyon's important heritage. We are also trying to hold the Bureau of Land Management's feet to the fire to make sure the review process for the proposal is fair, open, and above all, complete. So far they have tried to push the environmental review process through before most of us had heard about it or had a chance to comment on it. That's not fair and it shows much disregard for the canyon.
So, to all I say: "Come with me for just one day to Nine Mile, and I will show you one of the most important historical sites in the country," and I guarantee you will change your mind and join us in our effort to preserve the fascinating history of the canyon.