My 2019 tour took me through some breathtaking scenery in central Utah. One of the highlights was a hair raising ride through Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. The day before I had ridden just south of Bears Ears National Monument. The pictures I took don’t begin to do this area of Utah justice, of course. It is beautiful but harsh terrain.
I took a break in Grand Staircase at a highway overlook. I was standing at a railing taking in the sights when a van pulled up behind me. A little old lady (I’d guess she was 80, at least) carefully stepped out of the van. She looked out at the landscape with an expression of awe on her face. “This is so beautiful!” she said to me.
She was wearing a MAGA cap. She had no idea her beloved president had recently downsized the two monuments to 228,000 acres from it’s previous size of 3 million acres.
National Monuments can be created by executive order. And executive orders are modified at the will of the president in power. Thus, the size of these monuments was reduced. Today, the White House announced that the two monuments would be restored to more than 3 million acres. I don’t know if the MAGA lady is still alive, but I wonder if she has the slightest idea that any of this happened.
As for me, I am thrilled. This area of the country has a surreal beauty that just blew me away. To think that it would be open to development and artifact hunters was really depressing. We owe the preservation of these lands to our descendants.