Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument


Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Infobox_protected_area | name = Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
iucn_category = III



caption =
locator_x = 60
locator_y = 85
location = Kane County and Garfield County, Utah, USA
nearest_city = Kanab, UT
lat_degrees = 37
lat_minutes = 24
lat_seconds = 0
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 111
long_minutes = 41
long_seconds = 0
long_direction = W
area = 1.9 million acres (7,689 km²)
established = September 18, 1996
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body = U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument contains 1.9 million acres (7,571 km²) of land in southern Utah, the United States. There are three main regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante. President Bill Clinton designated the area as a U.S. National Monument in 1996 using his authority under the Antiquities Act.

Geography

The Monument stretches from the towns of Big Water, Glendale and Kanab, Utah on the southwest, to the towns of Escalante and Boulder on the northeast. It is slightly larger in area than the state of Delaware.

The western part of the Monument is dominated by the Paunsaugunt Plateau and the Paria River, and is adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park. This section shows the geologic progression of the Grand Staircase.

The center section is dominated by a single long ridge, called Kaiparowits Plateau from the west, and called Fifty-Mile Mountain when viewed from the east. Fifty-Mile Mountain stretchs southeast from the town of Escalante to the Colorado River in Glen Canyon. The eastern face of the mountain is a steep, 2200 foot (650 m) escarpment. The western side (the Kaiparowits Plateau) is a shallow slope descending to the south and west, and is the largest roadless piece of land in the lower 48 states.

East of Fifty Mile Mountain are the Canyons of the Escalante. The Monument is bounded by Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the east and south. The most popular hiking and backpacking area is the Canyons of the Escalante, shared with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Highlights include the slot canyons of Peekaboo, Spooky and Brimstone Canyons, and the backpacking areas of lower Coyote Gulch and of Harris Wash.

The Hole-in-the-Rock Road extends southeast from the town of Escalante, along the base of Fifty Mile Mountain. It is important in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon or LDS Church) and the settlements of southeast Utah, including Bluff, as well as providing access to the Canyons of the Escalante, and to the flat desert at the base of Fifty Mile Mountain that is actively used for grazing cattle.

Management

The Monument is managed by the Bureau of Land Management rather than the National Park Service. This was the first National Monument managed by the BLM. Visitor centers are located in Cannonville, Big Water, Escalante, and Kanab.

Paleontology

Since 2000, numerous dinosaur fossils over 75-million years old have been found at Grand Staircase-Escalante.

In 2002, a volunteer at Grand Staircase-Escalante discovered a 75-million-year-old dinosaur near the Arizona border. On October 3, 2007, the dinosaur's name, Gryposaurus monumentensis (hook-beaked lizard from the monument) was announced in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. "Monumentensis" was at least convert|30|ft|m long and convert|10|ft|m tall, and has a powerful jaw with more than 800 teeth. [http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_7073429 Duck-billed dinosaur amazes scientists] ] [http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_7079402 S. Utah dinosaur had a duck-billed snout -- and 800 teeth] ]

Two ceratopsid (horned) dinosaurs, also discovered at Grand Staircase-Escalante, were introduced by the Utah Geological Survey in 2007. They were uncovered in the Wahweap formation, which is just below the Kaiparowits formation where the duckbill was extracted. They lived about 80 million or 81 million years ago. The two fossils are called the Last Chance skull and the Nipple Butte skull. They were found in 2002 and 2001, respectively. [http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695215611,00.html Utah's new dino-stars: Discoveries give clues to distant past] ]

Human history

Humans didn't settle permanently in the area until the late Basketmaker period, somewhere around AD 500.Fact|date=March 2008 Both the Fremont and ancestral Puebloan people lived here; the Fremont hunting and gathering below the plateau and near the Escalante Valley, and the ancestral Puebloans farming in the canyons. Both groups grew corn, beans, and squash, and built brush-roofed pithouses and took advantage of natural rock shelters. Ruins and rock art can be found throughout the Monument.

The first record of white settlers in the region dates from 1866, when Captain James Andrus led a group of cavalry to the headwaters of the Escalante River. In 1871 Jacob Hamlin of Kanab, on his way to resupply the second John Wesley Powell expedition, mistook the Escalante River for the Dirty Devil River and became the first Anglo to travel the length of the canyon.

In 1879 the San Juan Expedition crossed through the Monument on their way to their proposed colony in the far southeastern corner of Utah. They eventually arrived at the 1200-foot (400 m) sandstone cliffs that surrounded Glen Canyon they found and named Hole-in-the-Rock, a narrow, steep, and rocky crevice and sandy slope that led down to the river. After six weeks of labor they had rigged a pulley system to lower their wagons and animals down the cliff, where they crossed the river and climbed back out through Cottonwood Canyon on the other side.

Controversy

The Monument was declared in September, 1996 at the height of the 1996 presidential election campaign by President Bill Clinton, and was controversial from the moment of creation. The declaration ceremony was held at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and not in the state of Utah. The Utah congressional delegation and state governor were notified only 24 hours in advance. This was seen by many as a transparent political ploy to gain votes in the contested state of Arizona. That November, Clinton won Arizona by a margin of 2.2%, and lost Utah to Republican Bob Dole by 21.1%.

Local officials and Congressman Chris Cannon (R - UT) objected to the designation of the Monument, questioning whether the Antiquities Act allowed such vast amounts of land to be designated.cite web
url = http://www.headwatersnews.org/p.021302.html
title = San Rafael Swell monument proposal could prove that Bush realizes the importance of a fair and public process
author = Mathew Barrett Gross
date = 2002-02-13
accessdate = 2008-01-16
publisher = Headwaters News, University of Montana
] Monument designation also nixed the Andalex Coal Mine that was proposed for a remote location on the Kaiparowitz Plateau, and promised to generate jobs for the local economy. [cite web
last = Grahame | first = John D. | authorlink = | coauthors = Thomas D. Sisk
title = Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah (page 3 of 4)Coal Mining vs. Wilderness on the Kaiparowits Plateau
work = Land Use History of the Colorado Plateau | publisher = Northern Arizona University
date = 2002 | url = http://www.cpluhna.nau.edu/Places/gsenm3.htm
format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-03-05
]

Wilderness designation for the lands in the Monument had long been sought by environmental groups; while designation of the Monument is not legally the same as Wilderness designation, for most practical purposes it is very similar. Bill Clinton significantly improved his standing with environmentalists by designating the Monument.

There are contentious issues peculiar to the state of Utah. Certain plots of land were assigned when Utah became a state (in 1896) as School and Institutional Trust Lands (SITLa, a Utah state agency), to be managed to produce funds for the state school system. These lands included scattered plots in the Monument that, critics claimed, could no longer be developed for the sake of Utah's school children. The SITLa plots within the Monument were exchanged for federal lands elsewhere in Utah, plus equivalent mineral rights and $13 million dollars cash by an act of Congress, the Utah Schools and Lands Exchange Act of 1998, supported by Democrats and Republicans, and signed into law as Public Law 105-335 on October 31, 1998. [cite web
last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors =
title = Public Law 105-335 | work = | publisher = US Government Printing Office
date = 1998 | url = http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=105_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ335.105
format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-03-04
]

A more difficult problem is the resolution of United States Revised statute 2477 (R.S. 2477) road claims. R.S. 2477 (Section 8 of the 1866 Mining Act) states: "The right-of-way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted." The statute was repealed by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, but the repeal was subject to valid existing rights. A process for resolving disputed claims has not been established, and in 1996, the 104th Congress passed a law which prohibited Clinton-administration RS2477 proposed resolution regulations from taking effect without Congressional approval. [cite web
last = Gamboa | first = Anthony | authorlink = | coauthors =
title = Recognition of R.S. 2477 Rights-of-Way under the Department of the Interior's FLPMA Disclaimer Rules and Its Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Utah, B-300912 | work = | publisher = US Government Accountability Office
date = February 6, 2004 | url = http://www.gao.gov/decisions/other/300912.htm
format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-03-04
] As of 2005, dirt roads in the Monument are highly disputed, with Kane County officials placing Kane County signs on roads they claim and occasionally applying bulldozers to grade claimed roads, while the BLM tries to exert control over the same roads. Resolution of this dispute is unlikely in the immediate future.

ee also

*Ancient Pueblo Peoples
*Grand Staircase
*Silvestre Vélez de Escalante
*Grosvenor Arch
*Road 400 - traverses a portion of the monument

References

*Paul Larmer (editor), "Give and Take: How the Clinton Administration's Public Lands Offensive Transformed the American West" (High Country News Books, 2004) ISBN 0-9744485-0-8
*Bureau of Land Management, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, "Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Management Plan" (U.S. Dept. of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, 1999)
*David Urmann, "Trail Guide to Grand Staircase-Escalante" (Gibbs Smith, 1999) ISBN 0-87905-885-4
*Robert B. Keiter, Sarah B. George and Joro Walker (editors), "Visions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante: Examining Utah's Newest National Monument" (Utah Museum of Natural History and Wallace Stegner Center, 1998) ISBN 0-940378-12-4
*Julian Smith, "Moon Handbooks Four Corners" (Avalon Travel Publishing, 2003) ISBN1-56691-581-3

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.ut.blm.gov/monument/ Bureau of Land Management: Grand Staircase-Escalante NM]
* [http://www.gsenm.org/ Grand Staircase Escalante Partners] support for public awareness, interpretive, educational, scientific, scenic, historical, and cultural activities.


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