How San Juan County’s crown jewel became San Juan County’s black hole

by Bill Boyle
When Canyonlands National Park was created in the early 1960s, local residents were excited about the possibilities that the national park designation would bring. San Juan County’s crown jewel would receive international attention, allowing people from around the world to enjoy the spectacular canyon country.
If you fast-forward 50 years, the impact of the national park designation is not as universally positive as local residents once hoped it would be.
While people from around the world do visit the mostly back-country park, local residents have very little interaction in the park. In fact, I am continually amazed at the small number of local residents who even enter the park.
To most San Juan County residents, “going to Canyonlands” means a visit to the BLM ground east of the park. They very rarely, if ever, enter the park or enjoy its beauty.
Over the next several months, I intend to address some of the issues related to this phenomenon to try and understand why San Juan County’s crown jewel has become San Juan County’s black hole.
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Months of political intrigue in Washington, D.C. culminated in the “sequester”, an across-the-board budget cut. One side of the political aisle says the cuts would be devastating to the nation, and the other says that the cuts are nothing more than a start on what is really needed.
Now, a week or so after the sequester was implemented, there is little immediate impact. However, one publicized impact does affect a group of local students.
A group from Monticello High School will visit Washington later this month. A highlight of their eight-day visit to the nation’s capital was to be a tour of the White House. The tour has been canceled, despite the best efforts of a Senate intern, Simone Shumway, who was helping to arrange the tour.
Shumway, who graduated from San Juan High School last year, is an intern in the office of Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. She is a student at Southern Utah University.

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