Op-ed: The southern Utah economy should not be dependent on coastal elites

Douglas C. Pizac, AP

In this undated file photo, the Upper Gulch section of the Escalante Canyons within Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument features sheer sandstone walls, broken occasionally by tributary canyons.

There is an advertisement currently running on the local television stations promoting that public lands be kept in their pristine state for the benefit of generations to come. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this ad is running at the same time that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has made recommendations concerning the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase monuments for the way they were formed and the size and scope of the monuments. The purpose is to put pressure on public officials to retain the monuments in their current status and size. The ad is narrated by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia Inc., based in Ventura, California.

According to Wikipedia, “Yvon Chouinard (born Nov. 9, 1938) is an American rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry billionaire businessman. His company, Patagonia, is known for its environmental focus. Chouinard is also a surfer, kayaker, falconer and fly fisherman, particularly fond of tenkara fly-fishing.”

In the ad, Chouinard promotes the benefits of the great outdoors and how he even learned some of his business savvy there. All of this while he is decked out in his fly fishing outfit with some beautiful scenery as a backdrop. The ad concludes with him sitting, pleading for individuals to preserve the public lands that we have. What Chouinard doesn’t say (he may not even think it) is that he has his wealth and doesn’t care about the rest of us. Chouinard recognized economic opportunity when it presented itself to him and he was prepared to exploit that opportunity.

Not everyone has the opportunity of making clothing and paraphernalia for the outdoors and turning it into a large corporation. Some people are not as well-educated or don’t recognize the same type of opportunities and just want to run the family ranch when their parents have passed on. In desert country, ranches often count on BLM land to augment their private land to create a large enough…

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