Vet Voice Foundation, with University of California, Irvine Environmental Law Clinic, Submits Comment Letter on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Kanab-Escalante Planning Area

Washington, DC – The Vet Voice Foundation (VVF), in partnership with the University of California, Irvine Environmental Law Clinic, is submitting a comment letter to the Bureau of Land Management, Kanab Field Office, in response to the Draft Resource Management Plans and Draft Environmental Impact Statement and for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Kanab-Escalante Planning Area.

In the letter, Vet Voice Foundation urged the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to ensure the protection of the lands and resources contained within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Kanab-Escalante Planning Area. VVF considers it a part of its patriotic duty to defend the United States’ public lands - including those lands originally and still designated as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and is urging BLM to do the same.

Veterans who have visited the lands, agree.

“The Grand Staircase-Escalante [National Monument] promised an escape I’d longed for—a high-desert wilderness carved from water and wind and time,” said Jason Davis, an Iraq War Veteran. “There, I was amidst Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature—'the circumstance that dwarfs every other circumstance,’ embedded deep within what Mark Twain wrote—while traveling west—was a ‘fairy-land ... of enchantment ... and ... mystery.’ Let it remain.”

On September 18, 1996, President William J. Clinton exercised his authority under the Antiquities Act12 to establish the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (the “Clinton Proclamation”). This Proclamation reserved approximately 1.7 million acres of public land for the care and management of myriad objects of historical, cultural, paleontological, and scientific interests, and withdrew those 1.7 million acres from entry, location, selection, sale or leasing of minerals.

However, in December 2017, President Donald Trump proclaimed modifying the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly half. This land—700,000 acres—is now under threat to be opened to mining or drilling. The Draft Resource Management Plans and Draft Environmental Impact Statement also have adverse impacts on night skies and natural soundscapes; lands with wilderness characteristics; recreation, travel, and transportation; and cultural and heritage resources.