San Juan County locals praise Trump’s Bears Ears decision

“Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.’ We need fighters. There’s a time and a place for peace and good feelings. And there’s a time to fight, and this is a time to fight. And I’m so grateful we have a fighter in the White House.”

by Marjorie Haun

President Trump is expected to meet Utah’s national, state and local elected officials on Monday at the State Capitol, to announce his decision to reduce the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Unconfirmed reports have been flying that the monuments will be reduced by 60 percent to 85 percent. But no one knows for sure what Monday will bring, other than masses of angry protesters–who not only do not live in Kane, Garfield or San Juan Counties, but many of whom are from out of state.


Trump’s decision comes after about eight months of careful consideration by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who was tasked with reviewing all national monuments created by presidents using the Antiquities Act since 1996. Bears Ears (1.4 million acres), created by Obama on December 28, 2016, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante (1.9 million acres), created by Clinton in a nod to green donors and Indonesian friends with clean coal interests in 1996, have been by far the most controversial and bitterly disputed. Strong opposition from the locals living in communities impacted by the massive monuments have had a significant impact on Zinke’s assessment. And, the same locals believe the President’s Monday announcement will bring them much-needed relief from the economic hardships which have accompanied these restrictive federal designations.

On Saturday, December 2, county commissioners from as far as Weber County and Garfield County, as well as nearby Grand County, joined San Juan County’s elected officials to celebrate Trump’s Monday announcement. A crowd of about 200 locals rallied at the County Courthouse in Monticello, and the feeling was jubilant, to put it mildly.

San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams:

“In making the recommendations he made, he made those based on specific objects…The Administration was very, very intent on listening to local voices when talking about the Monument. I couldn’t more happy than to hear those words from the Administration, that they were wanting to listen to the local voices…There were so many NGO’s and so many organizations that have big money from all over the United States that wanted to influence the designation of that monument, that it just blew it completely out of proportion. I think we’re going to rein it back in on Monday with the announcement from the President. And we’re certainly grateful for what Zinke and his staff have done. And finally…we’re here to celebrate and thank President Trump.”

SJC Commissioners Rebecca Benally and Bruce Adams

San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally:

“We are thankful President Trump also…what can you say? He’s not our average, predictable president, right? We appreciate the fact that he’s not a typical politician. As we stated earlier, we are just 15,000 strong, but he paid attention. He knows where Bears Ears is. He knows where San Juan County, Utah is, not just Salt Lake City. He knows we’re six hours away. We appreciate his willingness even though we know he will get backlash from the special interest groups, because we know he is willing to stand up for the people and economy of San Juan County. First and foremost, thank you to the grassroots people of San Juan County. This would never have happened without your willingness to share your voices. Voicing on social media, 11 o’clock at night, 2 o’clock in the morning, it helped. It worked! The many voices became one voice. This whole tactic of divide and conquer did not work. In spite of that divisive tactic we came together. Whether we were Native American or non-Native American, we started this fight together.  Your work is the reason we are here today, San Juan County residents. Thank you so much. “

Rebecca Benally

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman:

“I’ll just say this. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and as soon as people start making decisions based on the popular sentiment, you know we’re in big trouble. You know, there’s a statement, ‘Do what is right, let the consequences follow.’ If we would do that, life would be so much simpler. The truth is so much simpler than the false narratives being pushed onto us…We are a family. Why is this a constant effort to divide us? To emphasize the differences? When we are all children of God and we all care about each other. Nowhere have we seen this more than in San Juan County where these outside special interest groups will come in with an agenda and try to divide this county. I’m so grateful for people like Commissioner Benally, who will stand up and speak the truth…and all of you who have stood up and said. ‘We are not separate. We are one people. We are one county and We all care about each other.'”

“Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.’ We need fighters. There’s a time and a place for peace and good feelings. And there’s a time to fight, and this is a time to fight. And I’m so grateful we have a fighter in the White House…So much blood has been spilled to preserve this nation. Are going to now sit back and let attorneys and judges to sell our freedom away and fill their pockets with taxpayer’s money? One thing that we have going for us is, I’ve noticed, the biggest bullies are the biggest cowards. If you stand up, things will change. If we stand up, things will change…the simple message that will heal this country is let’s not divide, let’s come together. Let’s fulfill our duty, our duty to each other, our duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves, our duty to stand up for our country, our duty to stand up when things are being done to our neighbors that are not right.”

Phil Lyman
Grandma Betty Jones, Anna Tom
Jamie Bayles, founder Stewards of San Juan County

Free Range Report

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  1. Thanks for such great coverage! Especially appreciate that you pulled in full quotes, with context. That kind of detail doesn’t happen often.

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