We all know that “science” is good and “politics” is bad, right? That’s if we don’t read in disciplines like sociology of science, or science policy studies (not “science”?).
As I noted recently, when journals that don’t usually talk about natural resource stuff start publishing things, there is usually some kind of political angle. Again, because “scientists” think a certain way (even if there were a poll of all scientists) that doesn’t make it “science.”
Of all things, Science has an op-ed (this one is an op-ed without cites) “Science and politics collide over Bears Ears and other national monuments.”
What’s the value of a national monument designation, aside from protection?
Frankly, it’s about money. Utah, like many states, has struggled to fund its own paleontology program. The state’s Bureau of Land Management office currently has just one paleontologist and two law enforcement officers. The national monument designation comes with a mandate for more funding for law enforcement, which means more eyes on the ground to keep fossil thieves at bay and more money for education “so that people know there are fossils out there,” Gay says.
If the question is “what is the best use of public resources for the BLM?” does anyone really think that that’s a “science” question? And as economists tell me, if it is a science question, wouldn’t economic and social sciences be involved? Does anyone who visits the BLM and FS lands out there not know there are fossils out there?
I did think it was interesting that the Monument Designation “comes a mandate for more funding for law enforcement”- hadn’t heard that before.
Do scientists think the land set aside in the Bears Ears National Monument is big enough to protect its treasures?
Not surprisingly, Obama’s order was a compromise. There’s a large region, called Red Canyon, that was dropped from the final monument boundary—it, too, contains a trove of Triassic fossils, Gay says. But mining companies are interested in its uranium deposits, and pushed successfully to exclude the canyon in the monument. Red Canyon has an existing mine, the Daneros Uranium Mine, which produces a concentrated form of uranium (known as yellow cake) to make fuel rods for power plants. The national monument designation would prohibit new mining operations, and the mine’s owner, Energy Fuels, is seeking to expand the mine from its current 2 hectares to about 19 hectares.
So scientists need the extra 17 hectares or about 42 acres of fossils out of 1,351,849 acres currently in the Monument?
But perhaps my favorite part is this history:
In July 2016, Representative Rob Bishop (R–UT), who is also the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R–UT) rolled out their Utah Public Lands Initiative, which included plans for what is now Bears Ears National Monument. However, the proposal, which promoted fossil fuel development in parts of the region and allowed motorized recreation, met with stiff opposition from both environmental and tribal groups, as well as from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Bishop and Chaffetz tried unsuccessfully to win House approval for their plan before President Obama made the announcement.
Apparently not ALL tribal groups (based on our own information here and other news stories) but what a surprise! The FS and BLM (executive branch agencies) supported the President’s designation!!
Sorry, Science, I’m a scientist, too, and I don’t agree 1) that land use determination are science questions, although they should be informed by scientific data, nor 2) with the values espoused in this article.