My family owns 640 acres of deeded land 10 miles west of Bears Ears on Deer Flat. This lies in the National Monument. It was a school section sold to highest bidder in the late 1940s. My father ended up being the winning bidder and our family has farmed it ever since.

It took my father Dolores Hurst 25 years to improve and pay for that property, which has now been farmed for over 70 years. His father was driven out of Mexico in 1912 and they settled in San Juan county, and befriended the Native American Navajos. The Bears Ears Mountains have been a special place for us through all those years, where we all—Navajo, Ute, and Anglo alike—cut wood, hunted, and made lots of family memories. We’ve lived in harmony doing so.

The history of land use always shows it is better maintained by those who are stake holders:  those who farm it, graze cattle, or live adjacent to it. No tourist is going to care like we do. To see this land taken over by people who don’t even live here, who don’t know the value of land or the hard work it takes to survive in a harsh landscape is disconcerting. They may own houses and cars, but have never worked for a living on the land. All they know how to do is recreate.

Through lying and deceit we are being backed into a corner where no negotiation is wanted and no on-going input will be sought. The Federal government did not care enough to provide adequate staff to “protect” this area for the past 50 years. How do you think they will be able to finance the management 1.9 million acres in the future?

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. This is a perfect example of what has happens with uncontrolled Federal power. We support the opportunity for continued dialog and input from local stake holders.

– Elmer Hurst

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