Keeping Bears Ears May Help Local Economies

Dec 4, 2017

Prior to President Donald Trump’s visit to Utah on Monday, southern Utah leaders discuss the importance of Bears Ears and the possible economic value to keeping the monument.

Mary McGann is a Grand County Councilor and remembers in the 1960s when Canyonlands National Park was established.

“The people of Grand County and San Juan County at that time, many of them were opposed to the park and talked at Star Hall in Moab, Utah about how it was going to destroy our economy, how it was going to hurt the mining and the ranching, and were very negative towards the thought of having a park,” McGann said.

McGann said what she saw happen historically with Canyonlands is similar to the Bears Ears National Monument debate now.

McGann lives in Moab and said Canyonlands is now a predominant part of the economy and helped the community leave a depression in the 1980s when the uranium mines closed.

“So as opposed to what everybody’s fears were that developing Canyonlands would result in hurting our economy, it has done just the opposite,” McGann said.

Ashley Korenblat is the managing director for Public Land Solutions. This nonprofit organization works with communities that want to balance their economy by supplementing resource extraction with recreation.

“Many counties around the west right now are suffering from budget deficits due to the large supply of oil and gas and the subsequent low prices and thus the reduced mineral lease royalties,” Korenbalt said.

Korenbalt says places like Bear Ears assist economic growth because they meet a need by allowing people to experience the outdoors and learn more about the past.