Spiral Jetty: Is federal protection a useful option?
Part One: The future of Spiral Jetty.
Part Two: What's happening to the Great Salt Lake?
Part Three: Spiral Jetty, the Great Salt Lake and Dia
Part Four: Dia's 'buffer' approach to preserving Spiral Jetty
Part Five: The next step at GSL: Coalition-building, funding
Postscript: Spiral Jetty: Is federal protection a useful option?
I hadn't planned on including this post in this week's series on the future of Spiral Jetty. However during the week enough emailers asked me about federal protection that I thought I'd add it as a postscript. Non-Jetty content resumes Monday.
When I asked Friends of Great Salt Lake director Lynn de Freitas if she thought there was any kind of federal monument protection that would be help preserve Spiral Jetty, I could practically hear her wrinkle her nose at me.
"There is this funny, knee-jerk thing about Utah and the feds," she said. "There's this belief that we don't need to talk to the feds."
de Freitas remembered Utah's reaction in 1996 when the Clinton administration effectively unilaterally created the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. The state didn't like that the governor and the state's congressional delegation were told about the new monument only 24 hours before it was created. To make matters worse, President Clinton announced the monument from Arizona.
With the exception of that kind of presidential edict, only Congress can create a new national monument. Given Utah's experience with Grand Staircase, experts such as de Freitas and National Trust for Historic Preservation mountains/plains director Barbara Pahl aren't enthused about that as a viable option. Besides, even you if conservationists were to push through some type of Spiral Jetty National Monument, there would be other issues. Just because an area is designated a monument doesn't mean it's necessarily closed to industry.
"Even if you get a bill, you'd have to [pass] a bill that has a stipulation that talks about protection," Pahl said.
Another kind of federal recognition, placement on the National Register of Historic Places, provides virtually no protection.
All of which leaves Jetty preservationists with one clear option: Work with each other and with the state government.
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