“MY TURN,” VERDE INDEPENDENT 10/15/15:

Commentary: “Monument deserves debate of truth,
not emotion”
by Nancy Brown

Never underestimate the power of big money and blatant deception. It’s a tried and true strategy being used today all over the arid West to promote an agenda of development and mining on America’s public lands. It’s working like a charm here in Northern Arizona…so you’ll be seeing more of it, bet on it.

nancybYou know you’re special when the national fossil-fuel/developer lobbyists “Americans for Prosperity” (AFP) sets up shop in Flagstaff—they wanted to be closer to where the action is. They’re celebrating right now; so is the local political “states rights” Sedona group that calls itself Arizona Liberty; and so is the Verde Valley Realtors Board. “Yay, we won!” they crowed today on Facebook — so happy to defeat those naive Keep Sedona Beautiful people and their Coalition of environmental supporters that want to keep the Red Rock Forest safe from future land trades, development and mining. So tell me again what the people “won?” More development, mining, more population, more depletion of our watersheds? Wow, never mind we’ve been warned by ADWR we’ll tap out our water resources within our grandchildren’s lifetime. I can’t help but think that long-term, Greater Sedona is the loser here.

National lobbyists like AFP & American Lands Council, whose stated goal is “to privatize federal lands,” started using some of their anti-Monument “playbook” here this past July. They put out their standard list of false fears that have proven successful elsewhere including: “Your freedom to do what you want in the Forest will be gone!” The Monument Coalition group researched ALL the objections; some of them with no sources whatsoever, ALL of them either flat out false or just a bit of truth wrapped up in a big dishonest bow. Did any of it scare you? Of course it did — it was supposed to.

The protection against land trades, mining and development is NOT permanent in the new local Forest Plan, and the huge profit-seekers smell LOTS of money and opportunity in our beautiful red rocks and grasslands. We are not alone. National environmental organizations are crying out the alert: “We are facing the biggest threat to America’s public lands in our history! Public land should be saved – not sold!” writes The Trust for Public Land. The League of Conservation Voters states, “American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its allies are working behind closed doors to dismantle environmental safeguards in states across the country.” Close to home, we know the current battle to develop and mine at the Grand Canyon is raging.

Big Park Council decided, after hearing from a segment of the tea-party people, that they would rescind their endorsement of the Red Rock National Monument and stay neutral. Sedona City Council may well decide the same or just outright vote it down. These Councils are having trouble sorting out the truth when there’s this much noise and overwhelming emails, handouts, forums with paid lobbyist “experts,” and even a State Representative spouting all the same “facts” based on all the same intentional misinformation. It’s quite effective in a Machiavellian way — but is it really the direction, the future, that Greater Sedona and Verde Valley wants? So far it is.

Does it matter anymore that those statements are not true, that the Coalition has offered authoritative sources, including Constitutional law, Congress, the Supreme Court, the Dept. of Agriculture and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality as sources that counter these false and biased facts?

I’m told no, none of that matters, people have made up their minds and they won’t listen to Keep Sedona Beautiful’s Coalition. I’m told the people supporting the Monument designation — who have no profit motive, nothing to gain, nothing to lose except parts of the forest — are somehow not telling the truth, the people who have spent months volunteering, doing research, talking to other National Monuments managed by National Forests, talking weekly to groups of concerned citizens…. they’re just making it all up. I’m told their motive is “power.” Really? Power over what? If they got a designation, the Forest Service would continue to manage the Forest, the developers and miners would be forced to go prey on another area, and the Coalition would disband. I know, because I’ve volunteered for this Coalition and they are wonderful people but no match for these national lobbyist groups who DO have very powerful motives.

There are legitimate issues to discuss about this National Monument designation but they’ve been drowned out by an orchestrated din of intentional deception. I hope people wake up and realize this before it’s too late and before Greater Sedona loses the land it loves and the land that defines it.

The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation – increased and not impaired in value.Theodore Roosevelt, President, United States

Nancy M. Brown lives in Sedona/Village of Oak Creek and worked for 35 years in major market network TV and radio advertising, and then in 1995, started her company for website design & production. Nancy has been a part of Arizona life since her mother’s family moved here in the 1970’s and a keen observer of Arizona’s growth ever since. She moved her family and business to the Sedona area in 2001. Nancy is a past VOCA Board member, past Big Park Council member, and served on the Special Improvement District Committee. Nancy was a charter member of the Committee to establish an All-American Road and a current member of the All American Road Committee and a volunteer with the Coalition to establish a Red Rock National Monument.

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