Monday, December 4, 2017

A Righteous Burning Anger

A view towards the Bears Ears from land cut from Bears Ears National Monument
So here we are. Some seven months after my last post and the sky has started to fall. In a massive in-and-out trip, President Trump flew into Salt Lake City and after mispronouncing "Grand Staircase-Escalante," he announced that he would be signing two executive orders to modify the boundaries of both GSENM and Bears Ears National Monument. After invoking god and promising to have cattle grazing on the land (which they already do!), Trump flew back to the East Coast to hide in Trump Tower or the White House or some underground bunker with floor-to-ceiling Twitter streams without ever visiting the lands which he just mauled like a rabid wolverine.

The proclamation modifying GSENM recognizes the importance of fossil resources to the monument and at least pays lip service to protecting those resources (though the reality on the ground is a bit different). I will leave the detailed explanations of those fossils and how these cuts damage them to others who have worked extensively in the area; folks like Josh Lively, Joe Sertich, and the late Mike Getty (who no doubt is spinning in his grave and spewing hellfire at the monsters responsible for this abomination).

The proclamation abolishing BENM and establishing two new monuments, however, is a completely different story. As stunningly moronic as it is reprehensible, the proclamation showcases a complete lack of understanding of both basic geology and the resources. Contradicting the GSENM modification, the BENM modification claims that paleo is now well protected all over, despite clear evidence to the contrary. The proclamation then goes on to say, "East of the Bears Ears is Arch Canyon, within which paleontologists have found numerous fossils from the Permian and Upper Permian eras." This statement is complete nonsense, as there is no Permian or Upper Permian era (the Upper Permian is a division of the Permian Period), and there are no fossils known from Arch Canyon (as I have previously discussed). The stunning ignorance of just this one statement is echoed elsewhere in this awful steaming pile of rubbish.

Expect more posts about this before the end of the year. I am furious right now. This righteous, burning anger will fuel my actions going forward. I'm not only not giving up, I'm going to help strike back. You should too. Join and donate to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Write your representative or senator, especially regarding the insidious HR 3990 that attempts to abolish the Antiquities Act as we know it. Bombard the Department of the Interior with letters and calls, but remember that the folks on the ground, doing day-to-day management are not the ones who your anger should be directed at. They are trying their best to do their job in a horrible and uncertain situation. Aim your fury at those sitting back in Washington D.C.

Remember this too: if you voted for Trump, you voted for this. You directly enabled this. I don't want to hear your half hearted apologies about how you don't agree with everything he does or whatever milquetoast platitudes you try to offer me. Trump and his people wrote a proclamation that basically says that I'm an idiot and none of my life's work matters. Let that sink in.

We all knew something like this was coming. We hoped for an asteroid or an outbreak of common sense, but neither happened. Now we rise like lions, or are lost like lambs. Rise.

"This court case will be like a Roe vs. Wade for monuments." - Jessica Ugelsich

A small part of a massive fossil bed, possibly one of the most important in the state of Utah, now cut from BENM