Ranchers react to newly announced national monument

Aug 8, 2023, 9:00 PM

The Colorado River is visible flowing through the Grand Canyon as seen from the south rim of Grand ...

Ranchers are worried that the newly announced Ancestral Footprints Grand Canyon National Monument will make it near impossible for their cattle to use the grazing land. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Some farmers and ranchers are not happy with President Biden’s newly announced national monument. The Ancestral Footprints Grand Canyon monument covers more than 900,000 acres. The land lies between the Grand Canyon and the Utah State Line.

Chris Heaton, a Utah rancher who’s family has kept cattle on that land since the 1800s stated, “They haven’t even put together any sort of a management plan. They haven’t even been talking about it. All they’re saying is they will protect us. But I don’t trust them.”

“Our concern is, is they’re not going to allow us to maintain our water ponds and catchments.” he said.

What does this mean for ranchers?

Heaton said, “The thing about this land, is there’s no live water out here. There’s no rivers, streams, or lakes.”

This means that when the cattle need a drink, they have only a few options for water.

“All of the water out here is stored by either springs that had been developed, dirt ponds, in canyons, or wells that have been drilled.”

All of those waters sources are owned and maintained by ranchers.

When the management plan rolls around, Heaton is worried that the ranchers won’t be able to maintain the water for the cattle. This means that the cattle won’t be able to use the land.

“Either they’re gonna do it right out of the gate with the first set of management plans, or over the course of the years, they’re just gonna push us off with the management plan. We have patterns and examples of other national monuments where they have done just that.” Heaton said.

What can ranchers do?

“We’re gonna keep fighting.” said Heaton.

However, it might be an uphill battle.

Heaton spoke of a public meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona held by the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior.

“It was a very one-sided, lopsided meeting, they gave the ranchers just a few days notice and it’s three hours away from us. So not many ranchers were even able to attend.”

He mentioned many of the people present were in favor of the monument. They even booed the ranchers when they spoke.

“It was very disheartening,” Heaton said.

Heaton also mentioned a separate meeting in Kingman, Arizona, put on by the Arizona legislature. There he said that the Republicans were all present and none of the Democratic representatives even showed up.

“[It] was very disheartening that there were playing politics and party lines, when it affects people livelihoods.” said Heaton, “It’s very sad.”

Heaton said that the other meetings were pleasant and respectful, unlike the one in Flagstaff.

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Ranchers react to newly announced national monument