…parasitic arrangements like that between Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Partners and BLM, where public dollars are used to fund extreme special interests’ agendas, remain a threat to Americans in states where lands and resources fall under federal control.
By Marjorie Haun
The Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, a parasitic green group sustained in large part by federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grants, is party to a lawsuit against President Trump for his Administration’s recent reconfiguration of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) in southern Utah.
GSENM Partners, or simply “Partners,” joined with several other extreme environmentalist groups, including Great old Broads for Wilderness, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Grand Canyon Trust, in suing the Trump Administration last December immediately following the President’s announcement that, employing the same Antiquities Act provisions used to create the monument, he would reconfigure and downsize it to accommodate local economic needs.
In a move that stunned local communities and blind-sided Utah’s elected leaders, President Clinton created the almost 2-million acre GSENM in 1996, putting some of the country’s best clean coal and other natural resources off limits indefinitely. What ensued in the following decades was a creeping regional economic depression that has devastated local communities and entire sectors including ranching and extraction industries. Although progressive special interests moved in and promoted the outdoor recreation industry in towns such as Escalante and Boulder, the lack of economic diversity and good paying jobs began turning natural-resources-based communities into ghost towns.
The Partners went to war with Utah locals when rumblings about a potential new national monument in southeastern Utah, the Bears Ears, began in 2015. The Partners launched messaging campaigns–largely through their tax-payer funded website–to oppose all efforts to restore balance to local economies and protect what remained of traditional ways of life. The threat of economic harm to communities near the proposed Bears Ears National Monument spurred Utah’s localist movement. Then, Obama’s audacious Bears Ears National Monument declaration–made while on vacation in Hawaii just weeks before he left office–drove the majority of Utahns–local communities in southern Utah in particular–to lobby the the incoming Trump Administration for relief through either the downsizing or elimination of the massive monuments.
When Trump responded positively to Utah’s local communities and leaders in December 2017, the Partners reacted by suing the Administration.
Grotesque Conflict of Interest
The Partners have been entangled with the BLM for years, and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between the feds and this environmental activist group show that their operating costs are funded largely by your tax dollars. The BLM awarded the group one grant in the amount of $175,940.00 effective August 22, 2015 through June of 2019, and an additional grant for $227,836.00, effective July 26, 2016, also through June of 2019, for a total of $380,080.00 for the current period running through next spring.
The Partners parasitic relationship with BLM is at best confusing, and at worst intentionally deceptive to the public which is given the impression that the green group operates under the purview of the Interior Department and is thereby accountable to voters. The truth is unfortunately the converse; Partners is an independent 501 (c) (3) special interest embedded within, and feeding off of, a federal bureaucracy–likely made possible by civil service bureaucrats working in southern Utah’s BLM offices who are sympathetic to the Partners’ environmentalist agenda.
In what appears to be a grotesque conflict of interest, the Partners continues to use federal property and taxpayer-funded facilities to monetize its extremist campaign against the Trump Administration and local interests. Although it touts its lawsuit against the federal government on its website, Partners maintains donation boxes at BLM facilities in an around the reconfigured GSENM, and continues receiving disbursements of federal grant monies.
According to one local informant, for years Partners has enjoyed the used of BLM vehicles, office space and technology, and other taxpayer-funded equipment and amenities, despite the fact that it uses these resources to recruit activists, send operatives into local schools, and influence local governments to further its own dubious agenda.
Partners and other federally-embedded special interests may be too publicly visible to be defined as the “deep state,” but they are, nonetheless, creatures in the fetid swamp of federal bureaucracies. Although the BLM has made some strides towards transparency under the leadership of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, parasitic arrangements like that between GSENM Partners and BLM, where public dollars are used to fund extreme special interests’ agendas, remain a threat to Americans in states where lands and resources fall under federal control.
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