Park Record columnist
“The impeded stream is the one that sings.” — Wendell Berry
Notions like Wendell’s came to me more often back when spending time tossing hand-tied flies into moving water occupied more of my time than it does these days.
Having now become part of the overall feng shui of the humble abode, many of the bugs now dangle alongside a culturally diverse string of Father Christmas icons from a tumbleweed that rolled up to the door seeking asylum one day. Plants have to be dead prior to gaining admittance hereabouts. If not, it seems they acquire that status soon enough.
Over the past 20-some years, these detached desert plant skeletons have tumbled up to the back door and preening themselves for inspection, applied for admission.
Some are rather large and travel relatively far gaining confidence before making their grand entrance into the modest waiting area at the bottom of the steps. They like to think they slammed into the house and knocked it off its foundation. I have learned over time that tumbleweeds dream big.
The same could be said for the coalition that formed to lobby President Obama for the designation of Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. Being of the persuasion that supported such protection for the lands involved, I was overjoyed at its creation during the waning days of the previous administration.
Others, however, mostly Republicans, of which there is, of course, a huge contingent in these parts, would like to see the designation rescinded and the lands returned to control of the extractive industry lobbies. Like tumbleweeds, their dream has grown to also include putting the kibosh on Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Pretty much on the heels of Trump’s inauguration, committees within the Utah Legislature drafted and approved resolutions that would seek to have the newly installed President take his cleaver to both monuments. This was no surprise. Southern Utah’s white-eyes had been on the warpath against those who wish to see land protections in place for quite some time.
It’s understandable, actually. In total disregard of the overwhelming support of the tribal coalition in favor of monuments, they had invested time and money to line up congressional and legislative opposition to the designation. They’ve even spread their “fake news” around reservations in hopes of attracting supporters through fear that the monuments will keep them from their holy places.
It seems from the vantage point of the Heber Valley foothills, however, that resistance, opposition to the opposition, is growing. Not that that in itself will make much difference. Western Trumpsters, of which there are multitudes, also dream big and they appear dead set on removing everything “Obama” from the history books.
The resistance does seem to be coalescing around candidates at the local level, however, and that type of organization does have a way of paying dividends, at least down the road. We’ll just have to wait and see how much noise they can make and how much of a burr under the saddle blanket of the sagebrush rebellion they can become.
To be sure, there will be Bundy-like activism continuing as long as they perceive support from Agent Orange and his federal appointees, most of whom have in their crosshairs the dismantling of the very departments they now lead.
One wonders what kind of opposition those in communities such as Escalante will provide using their entrepreneurial successes as proof that National Monuments do indeed provide jobs. I would like to see these clowns attempt to remove the designation of the likes of Grand Teton or Yellowstone or Yosemite National Parks.
I don’t believe the neighboring communities would stand for it. The pattern has been that many of those who initially oppose such designations reverse their ideology once tourism becomes an economic force.
Of course, these are strange times with even stranger mindsets at the helm of good ship lollipop. I can’t imagine attempting to predict where we’ll be even one year down the road. One thing is for sure, however, and that is that we need to impede the current anti-cultural waters streaming out of Washington or they may never sing again.
Tumbleweeds will continue to tumble, however, and you can be sure it will be on their own time and in their own place. They will always be welcome here.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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