“After serving our great nation in Iraq and Afghanistan I feel like the same freedoms and rights are being threatened.”
Casey’s wife, Sasha shares his opinions on the national monument. They are both very much aware of the overcrowding and land damage in the rest of the state and do not wish for that to happen in the places they hold so dear. Sasha says, ” Ever since I was a little girl, I loved the mountains. My parents and grandparents taught me to respect the land. I have done the same with my kids. I want them to experience the same things as me. I do not want the National Monument. It will take away our freedoms.”
“I love the mountains and I like to see all the animals.”
– Tayzia Singer
6 years old
US Veteran, Casey Singer feels that the freedoms he fought for in the military are now the same freedoms that are being threatened by own over government saying, “The areas that I go to enjoy our privileges are included in the 1.35 million acres. After serving our great nation in Iraq and Afghanistan I feel like the same freedoms and rights are being threatened.
With a National Monument, I feel I will NOT be able to experience and enjoy our own area, my son and daughter will not be able to walk the same canyons, bluffs, and meadows that I have. There is a first-hand experience that you cannot feel in a photograph.
This land is an outlet for stress. No National Monument!”
This family is among many who feel that the monument will harm the land and the people a lot more than help it. They have done their research and know that even if the community makes money for overwhelming tourism, it can never replace what we have.
While we are from Stansbury Park, UT, we believe people should be able to use the land.
We are a family of four who loves to play outdoors and spend time with family. We try to enjoy the land that is still available for us to camp and have fun on. We should be able to use the land how we want.
We’ve lived in San Juan County for five years now, well going on five years. We really enjoy this place, the Bears Ears area. Part of the reason we enjoy it is because the people that we live around and talk with, they’ve grown up loving it and taking care of it. So, they wanted to show it off to us.
As a small town doctor, I get to talk with a lot of people who live in this area. I have yet to visited with anyone in this area, who supports the national monument.”
– Kelly Jeppesen
They don’t show it off in a bad way, I haven’t seen anybody trying to deface the land, none of the locals that I’ve been hiking with are interested in pushing down rocks on ruins or picking up artifacts. I know that that’s been done in the past and it’s regretful that that has been done but I don’t think the way to avoid that in the future is to close it off to the public.
I think that a better way to protect the land that we love is to have people running around in it who learn how to respect it. And you can instill a love of the land by camping in it, you can instill love in the land by just learning about other cultures and being good to each other.
I understand that there’s some concerns about it being holy ground to the native people of the area. And while I respect that I think it’s also holy ground to so many of the people who have raised their families in this area.
We love this area. And we respect the area and I don’t think that a monument would make it better.”
– Andrea Jeppesen
As a small town doctor, I get to talk with a lot of people who live in this area. I have not visited with anyone in this area who supports the national monument. The rich, the poor, Caucasian or Native American, the fifth-generation or first-generation resident. They all want to have the opportunity to enjoy this land without oversight. All the people who live here oppose the monument. This land is our land, this land is my land. This land was made for you and me.
JR Kemner’s family came here in the 1880s. They have farmed, ranched, and were good stewards.
I guess we’ve been spoiled to enjoy this land for free.”
JR and Laura met over 24 years ago and one of their many dates, before they got married, was to drive around in these hills [the now Bears Ears National Monument]. Over the next 24 years they’ve been here to introduce each of their kids to Blue Mountain.
The last time Paul and Diane Kemner’s kids and grandkids were all together was up here on Blue Mountain. They are both now gone but would be saddened if they could see what was happening to this land. This land is sacred to more than just the Native Americans.
I guess we’ve been spoiled to enjoy this land for free. To come up here to get away, to fish in Dry Wash, to enjoy the scene on the Causeway. The idea of having to share this with the world, watching it fill up with people is upsetting. Where will we go not to “get away from it all”?
I am a first generation rancher here in San Juan County. My wife and I were both born and raised in Blanding. We bought our ranch 15 years ago after the previous owner passed away and we have been living the dream since then. We raise our cattle on mostly Forest Service and BLM allotments, along with state lands and some private ground.
I have become increasingly concerned about the future of my livelihood as the ideas concerning the lands bill and potential Bears Ears National Monument designations have come to the forefront. Recently there has been a huge movement and increased interest among some members of Native American tribes calling for more protection and preservation of lands here in our county.
“I have become increasingly concerned about the future of my livelihood…”
One casual observation is that these lands have suddenly become conveniently “sacred” and there is a strong indication that it is due to a certain amount of outside influence from NGO’s. I have also noticed that there is a great amount of misinformation being shared about how much these lands are currently being negatively impacted. They held a “gathering” last summer as well as this summer near the Bears Ears to draw attention to their cause that was attended by some high level government officials.
For some reason I don’t think a meeting of that kind would have been granted with me or other opponents of the monument if it had been requested. I bring this up because both “gatherings” were held in the middle of one of the pastures on my Forest Service allotment. I run cattle on the Bears Ears in the summer and on Cedar Mesa in the winter and I love these areas. These areas have played an integral part in the ranching history here in San Juan County for many, many decades.
I have many goals as a rancher such as; raising a quality food product for an ever growing and hungry population, ensuring a quality life for my livestock, taking care of my family, teaching my children the value of work, allowing others the experience of the western lifestyle, etc. The most important goal that I have is taking care of the land, and that is very important to me.
As far as an economical impact, although the size of my herd is not large compared to what other ranchers have around here, I feel like my contribution to our local economy is significant. In 2014, I spent over $125,000 here in San Juan County. That does not include payments to any government entity or any loan payments made. That amounts to a little under $500 per cow that goes back into the local economy that I would like to continue to be able to contribute.
“The most important goal that I have is taking care of the land, and that is very important to me.”
I actually have more to say about these things, but these are the basics. I don’t put myself out there too much, but I wanted to make sure my voice is being heard since I have a vested interest in the outcome of what is going on here. My message can be summed up quite simply and easily. The management practices that are in place for the areas we ranch on are working well and that is why these lands are so beautiful, pristine, and productive and I want my ability to continue ranching and taking care of these lands to be protected.
The Barton Family opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
My parents weren’t from Blanding. I don’t have ancestral roots to the Hole in the Rock pioneers—that’s my husband and children’s heritage. But I will always feel a connection to the land and the people here.
My father, Worthy Glover served an LDS mission in this area, in the Southwest Indian Mission, before he married my mother. He learned to speak Navajo and to love the people. He still speaks fluent Navajo, and it is always a treat to hear him sing some of my favorite songs in Navajo. If you meet him, you will have to ask him about “The Ant Hill Song,” “Go My Son,” and “I Walk in Beauty.” Some of my favorite memories include traveling with him to some distant part of the reservation to help him serve the people he loves.
My earliest memories include some of the Navajo nicknames he gave me, including Nan’a’bah (little Nan), Nizhoni (beautiful) and Dii’giis (stupid). Yep, my dad called me stupid. But I don’t think it was meant to be an insult. You see, my dad knew my nature as a fighter, a tiny fighter, but a fighter nonetheless. He knew calling me Dii’giss was a challenge, and I would automatically be the opposite of stupid, and he was right. I was one of the smartest students at San Juan High School, where I graduated with honors thanks to my parents challenging me.
“Proposals written by those pushing for a monument designation say these things will be allowed, but it is hard to believe those promises, when so often in the past those same types of promises have not been kept.”
My best friends growing up were Native American—mostly Navajo, but I had several Ute friends and my first boyfriend was Cheyenne. I am so grateful for their friendship and the example they have been to me of overcoming difficult odds.
Recently, that fighting spirit my father saw in me at a young age has started to come out, as I have realized the threat of a monument designation is very real in our area. I can’t help but feel like I need to stand up for my community, my family and friends, and especially my Native American friends. When you study history, it is obvious a monument designation will lead to greater restrictions to gathering pine nuts and other herbs and plants by Native peoples. Wood cutting is often greatly limited. I know too many people who depend on simple things like gathering pine nuts to supplement their meager income. And so many, so many that absolutely could not survive without firewood.
Recently, that fighting spirit my father saw in me at a young
age has started to come out, as I have realized the threat
of a monument designation is very real in our area.”
Proposals written by those pushing for a monument designation say these things will be allowed, but it is hard to believe those promises, when so often in the past those same types of promises have not been kept. I have to say it, imposing a monument designation on this land would be “dii-giis!” Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
Have some respect for the real people who will be most affected by this proposal. Let’s not just protect the environment (which we all know is unlikely without restrictions); let’s protect the ecosystem, which includes the land, the animals and the PEOPLE who live here!
The Wilcox Family opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
Wilcox Family – Residents of San Juan County Since 1970.
Though both Steve and I grew up in the farmlands of southern Idaho, we have learned to love San Juan County and have lived here since 1970. At first it seemed barren, dry, and too rocky. But it is Home to us now. We love the open spaces, the clean air, the slower life style and the varied landscapes which includes farms, forests, mountains, pastures, canyons, buttes, lakes, open spaces and small towns.
Central to our core beliefs is a love of the land. Steve was raised on an irrigation farm, and I was raised on a dry farm, so we’re used to getting dirty and working hard. We have raised not only a large family but a great deal of our own food ever since we moved here, plus we share with others. We are conservationists in that we try not to waste water, produce, time, energy, or belongings. We and our neighbors have been putting things we don’t need on a give-away corner at 1st S. and 3rd W. for eight years now. Because of that and being very frugal, our family reunions and activities were usually centered somewhere in the camping areas of San Juan.
Traditionally we have been tent campers without modern conveniences that modern man (woman) seems to think they can’t live without, though that has changed a bit the last 15 years. Besides family campouts our family has participated in multiple Boy Scout Camps, Girls Camps, Cub Scout camps and Fathers and Sons outings on the mountain. Some of the places we’ve camped include Bulldog, Lake Powell, Wolf Cave, Cottonwood, Blue Mountain Guest Ranch, Buckboard, Camp Jackson, Recapture Reservoir, Nizhoni Campground, Johnson Creek, Chippean Ridge, Devils Canyon, Elk Mountain, Lloyd’s lake area, Dry Wash, Abajo Haven, Red Butte, and Foy Lake. We have loved those experiences, and have done our best to camp and recreate in harmony with the surroundings and teach our family and others to leave places better than they were found.
There is NOT a lot of green space in San Juan County, that is why as residents are so against having a National Monument that stretches onto our beautiful mountain areas and down the north side. Most citizens who live here—Hispanic, Native and Anglo– have learned to love, care for, and utilize the good things that the Mountain has offered us. In turn we have learned to be good stewards of the land and follow the existing guidelines of the Forest Service.
This mountain range has been a beacon of hope, home and harmony to all cultures in the county. The Mountain Range has produced, protected, and been a provident Mother to us all. Those who know her best have followed her trails and her canyons; they have climbed her buttes and peaks, and camped in her forests and have even lived in cabins and hogans on her hillsides.
We have groomed her landscapes by gathering dead wood. In turn this helps us heat our homes and hogans. In doing so we have helped protect the mountain from fires. When dead wood is harvested, controlled burns don’t need to happen. Fall outings to gather wood were central to our preparations for winter as our family was growing up and I know it continues to be for many in our area still.
Like the Diné and Ute, we too have gathered various supplies from nature, mainly pine needles and cones to use for garden mulch, to cut back on water usage and improve alkaline soil. As a family we have often fasted for 24 hours and offered our prayers to heaven for rain and snow to bless our mountain, which in turn blesses all of us. It is a synergistic relationship which blesses both the giver and the receiver and produces the greatest results for both the Mountain and Mankind.