Kane, Garfield County Officials Want Monument Manager Replaced

Kane, Garfield County Officials Want Monument Manager Replaced

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Officials of Kane and Garfield counties claim the manager of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has a "preservation" philosophy, and they want him replaced.

The counties and monument officials have been at odds over grazing and road issues in the nearly 2 million southern Utah monument since it was created by former President Clinton in 1996.

"This ... philosophy, fostered under the (former Interior Secretary Bruce) Babbitt administration and continued by the present management, is at the heart of the conflicts," the Kane and Garfield leaders wrote to Sally Wisely, Utah director of the Bureau of Land Management.

Wisely did not return phone calls Monday and monument manager Dave Hunsaker was on vacation.

The Aug. 25 letter was signed by the two county commissions, two legislators and the mayor of Kanab.

It was sent within a week of the disclosure that Kane County Commissioner Mark Habbeshaw and Sheriff Lamont Smith had removed 31 BLM road signs inside the monument that restricted all-terrain vehicles.

In their letter, the rural leaders expressed frustration at increased restrictions on grazing and motor vehicle access inside the monument.

The rural leaders attribute the new restrictions to a top-heavy staff whose managers are more concerned about preservation than allowing for multiple use inside the monument, which covers about 47 percent of Kane County and 18 percent of Garfield.

"This problem developed under the Babbitt administration and should be reconsidered under (Interior) Secretary (Gale) Norton and Director Kathleen Clarke's watch," the letter said.

It cited the 2000 crackdown on two grazing permittees who failed to remove their cattle from drought-stricken grazing allotments. After the ranchers failed to remove the cattle despite several warnings, then-monument manager Kate Cannon ordered the livestock impounded. After Bush took office, Cannon was reassigned to the National Park Service.

The letter also cited Hunsaker's refusal to remove BLM signs that Kane County commissioners claim infringed upon county rights of way.

The letter also criticized Hunsaker for talking to The Salt Lake Tribune about the road-sign controversy, which Habbeshaw said he had hoped to settle outside of public scrutiny.

The letter also protested Hunsaker's approval of a plan to close grazing allotments purchased within the monument by the Grand Canyon Trust for $600,000.

The letter suggests that the monument staff be largely absorbed by the BLM's Kanab field office. It said the area now within the monument once was overseen by 11 BLM employees, and it said the monument's staff has grown exponentially.

Marietta Eaton, assistant monument manager, said the staff of 62 full-time employees is well under its authorized strength of 93.

Environmental groups last week mailed their response to Wisely.

"The counties' recommendations are clearly based on a desire to undo monument protections," said the letter by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Wilderness Society and the Grand Canyon Trust.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast