Land Use Decisions: Elitist or Democracy?


Dec 31, 1969
This land is your land, this land is my land. One view of land use management doesn't see it this way. This view, as is reflected in the decision to proclaim the GRAND STAIRCASE ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, allows a select group of environmentalists to meet behind closed doors, dictating public policy. The other view, apparent in the proposal to create the SAN RAFAEL SWELL NATIONAL MONUMENT, brings all interested parties into the decision making process in an attempt to build a consensus and keep public policy makers in touch with the people they are serving. Unlike the GRAND STAIRCASE ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, which in essence ropes off a large section of land and keeps the public out, the SAN RAFAEL SWELL NATIONAL MONUMENT proposal aims to allow everyone to enjoy it and open it for multiple use, balancing different interests that are compatible with the land use plan.

I'm concerned that radical environmentalists, such as the Sierra Club, wants to incrementally impose its will and turn the Pine Barrens into a wilderness area like the GRAND STAIRCASE ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, where responsible logging, mining, recreation and other uses are taboo. Banning ATV's, even licenced ones, completely from the Pine Barrens is one step in this direction.

At present, the Pine Barrens is managed more like the proposed SAN RAFAEL SWELL NATIONAL MONUMENT. Trees are being logged responsibly, blueberry, cranberry, and other crops are cultivated, people hike, canoe, enjoy nature, camp, visit graveyards, ghost towns, old buldings, and take pictures of what they see. There are many roads to allow access to these things. There are organized campgrounds with some ammenidies and there are primative campgrounds for those who enjoy that kind of experience. I hesitate to use the word "wilderness", as it has been co-opted by the radical environmentalists. As the philosopher-poet T.S. Eliot said, words need to be carefully defined after a heresy creeps in.

I prefer the more primative camping experience, and I often enjoy the solitude I find in places such as the Batona Trail, especially the preservation area between Quaker Bridge and Apple Pie Hill. To get to the trail, I can drive along the sand road from route 206 that comes in just below the Atsion Ranger station. I can also get to Hampton Furnace via a sand road. I've encountered very few people along Quaker Bridge Road and along the Batona Trail in this general area. The few I've encountered were very civil, polite, and easy going. Occasionally a car or truck comes the other way along Quaker Bridge Road. The drivers have always been polite and we've found a way to allow each other to pass by. Once, when I was exploring around the Quaker Bridge itself, a dirt bike rode up to the bridge along the sand road. A young man got off, and went down the other side of the bridge from where I was, enjoying but respecting the area and other people. After awhile, he road off. He was no joy rider.

Multiple use is a good thing. This management practice keeps places such as the Pine Barrens for everyone to enjoy. Let's learn as lesson from the SAN RAFAEL SWELL NATIONAL MONUMENT plan and continue to allow everyone to enjoy the Pine Barrens.