Take it or Leave it: Accurate Quotes…by Jim Stiles

The Zephyr takes pride in getting our facts right and our quotes accurate. Sometimes we have to do a little research to find those facts and quotes, but it’s worth the effort.

This issue’s “accurate quotes” section comes from a strong supporter of Bears Ears National Monument, Eve Tallman, and a current supporter of both BENM and Grand Staircase NM, created by President Clinton in 1996.

EVE TALLMAN, rock climber

On April 8, 2017, Bears Ears NM supporter Eve Tallman wrote an op-ed for the Salt Lake Tribune called: “Rescinding Bears Ears National Monument reeks of bad intent”

In her concluding remarks, Eve wrote:

“Instead of working to destroy the protections that most Utahns want for Bears Ears, Sutherland would better serve the public by supporting meaningful efforts to jumpstart San Juan County’s economy through tourism and responsible use of the monument. Utahns talk a big game about our “Mighty Five” National Parks – Bears Ears deserves the same recognition.”

Eve’s bio identified her as a “retired librarian living in Moab.” Eve is also an accomplished rock climber who spent many years scaling the sheer canyon walls at Indian Creek, now a part of Bears Ears NM. From public posts on her facebook page, Eve Tallman discussed the growing popularity of the rock climbing mecca with fellow climbers on November 16, 2015…Here are some excerpts…

Eve Tallman Argh. Hundreds of climbers in Indian Creek, even with rain and snow softening the rock..We’re just crabby nimbys

Stewart M. Green That too…but who could have foreseen the popularity of Indian Creek? Even 20 years ago it seemed there was too many folks there and that was a drop compared to now. And now, with crowds comes control….

Eve Tallman I should have bought stock in Black Diamond…
It’s so depressing, hanging out with 50 people at the Cat Wall. Even the East Coast was mellow compared to this.

Drew Bedford Used to be a lonely place.

Eve Tallman We’ll have to find the land that time forgot

all these huge cairns EVERYWHERE are just so much defacement of the desert.. How about Leave No Trace? All those cairns make me crabby.

Dave Vaughan My October trip to ICreek in October could be my last… I just can’t handle the bro/brah/subaru/bunhead/noisy/crowded scene anymore. Call me a crusty old guy if you will, but selfishly I’m glad I got to climb there way back when 🙂

Indian Creek is now a part of Bears Ears NM.  In Eve Tallman’s own words, it was a once special place, now marred by “so much defacement of the desert.”

The defacement wasn’t caused by the “locals.” Nor by cows. And not by by oil wells. Instead she attributes the destruction to a scourge of rock climbers, in numbers that are overwhelming. And yes, in 2016 the Inter-Tribal Coalition chose to encourage rock climbing inside the monument; it plans to aggressively promote its future recreational benefits

The parking lot at Indian Creek.


Scott Groene

Scott Groene, now the Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, was once a contributor to The Zephyr. As a SUWA representative, he made these observations about the new Grand Staircase Escalante NM in October 1998. It was his last Zephyr submission before he left SUWA for a while to seek employment elsewhere…

It appears the BLM’s legacy with the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument may be a new record for the greatest waste of money ever expended on a plan. The proclamation establishing the area already made the difficult decisions to prohibit future oil, gas, or hard rock mineral development. It is unclear what, if any, additional decisions the BLM will make at the end of the three year planning process that is sucking limited resources from other BLM programs. The agency has suggested it may refuse to make decisions about grazing, road closures or wilderness.

The agency also appears poised to promote tourism through the monument: the agency’s most recent update letter raises an alternative of accommodating and increasing recreation. (emphasis added) The BLM has also proposed a fee structure that would include a pay-off to local governments, the same governments that have sued to disestablish the monument, illegally bladed roads in the monument, and opposed a land exchange which benefits both Utah’s school children and the monument.

The Monument designation may turn out to be the worse thing that could have happened to the Escalante region if the BLM uses the monument as an excuse to improve roads and promote the area for tourism, (emphasis added) and refuses to make tough decisions on grazing, wilderness and road closures.

But jump ahead almost a decade and environmental attitudes had clearly changed.

Though it’s a well-worn claim nowadays, in an August 2007  KCPW public radio  reported:

“The Outdoor Industry Foundation says outdoor recreation has an annual economic impact of $6 billion a year in Utah and accounts for 65,000 jobs. That’s making state officials more receptive to conserving wilderness, says Scott Groene of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.”

In KCPW’s interview, Groene explained:

“When the Outdoor Industry a couple years ago spoke up about the importance of their industry and threatened to pull the [Outdoor Retailer] tradeshow from Salt Lake City, they got the governor’s attention. And it changed the debate from one that protecting lands would devastate local economies to not only would they not devastate local economies but there was actually a benefit to protecting lands.”

According to the KCPW article, “Groene says being eco-friendly isn’t just for activists like SUWA. It’s also good business.”

What changed in nine years?  In 1998, Groene believed that to “promote the area for tourismwas such a threat to the environment that it may turn out to be the worse thing that could have happened to the Escalante region.” In 2007 (and now)  industrial recreation is ” also good business.”

What changed? Is Industrial Strength Tourism somehow less a threat in 2017 than it was in 1998?  Honest environmentalists need to ask.

Grand Staircase Escalante Visitor Center.


Jim Stiles is Founder and Co-Publisher of the Canyon Country Zephyr.

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3 comments for “Take it or Leave it: Accurate Quotes…by Jim Stiles

  1. Evan Cantor
    October 4, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    It’s a losing battle, but one that still needs warriors fighting the good fight–kudos to you, Jim.

  2. mark posinoff
    October 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Is Industrial Strength Tourism somehow less a threat in 2017 than it was in 1998? Honest environmentalists need to ask.

    Somehow the prevailing opinions change with the money. The American culture of buy, buy, buy and spend, spend, spend casts its obsequious presence seemingly everywhere.

    Ever notice that some true mountaineers remain low profile and it is the recreational aficionado that proclaims his/ her mountaineer status publicly instead?

    Some of the best geographical places to be out in are good in the wintertime months- complete w/ other wintertime campers.The crowds of recreational enthusiasts seemingly can not get their interest up high enough to brave the elements of less than fair weather.

  3. Wayne Erickson
    November 12, 2017 at 1:44 am

    What changed is that Groene returned to work at SUWA. He now toes the company line in order to keep his job. Most objective observers are aware that the designation of the monuments has sacrificed access, local input and most of all solitude. The time will quickly come when we will characterize the time before the designations as the “good old days”.

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