Monday, June 13, 2016

Fake Land Grabs in Utah: The crazies are still out there.

One flier advertises an open hunting season on southeast Utah backpackers, with no harvest limits and all weapons permitted.
Another carries a fake news release from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell: The federal government plans to seize more than 4 million acres of the Navajo Nation's land.
A third flier advertises a July 17 party in Blanding, Utah, to celebrate President Obama's designation of a Bears Ears National Monument that would supposedly happen that day. But Utah Navajos aren't invited, the flier states. They can kiss access to their sacred lands goodbye.
"Utah Navajos, stay away from our party," it reads. "Everyone else come and celebrate with us."
The postings discovered in the past month at trailheads, campgrounds, a post office and gas stations in San Juan County show that the debate surrounding the proposed 1.9-million-acre national monument is getting nasty.
It's not clear who posted them and whether they come from the same person or different authors.
"I think they're repulsive, and whoever generates them should not be rewarded," said County Commissioner Phil Lyman, who opposes a Bears Ears monument and in April served a 10-day jail sentence for leading an illegal all-terrain vehicle ride in 2014 in Recapture Canyon to protest federal land restrictions.
Monument proponents suspect anti-monument activists posted the fliers to foment discord among Navajos, whose elected leaders firmly back the Bears Ears proposal. Roughly 47 percent of San Juan's 15,772 residents are American Indian, most of them Navajo.
The flier promoting the killing of backpackers does not mention Bears Ears, but conservationists said it's hard to ignore the connection.
"The timing of it seems pretty obvious," said Josh Ewing, executive director of Friends of Cedar Mesa, a nonprofit based in Bluff, Utah, near the southeast border of the proposed monument. "It's a serious issue."
Cynthia Wilson, a community outreach coordinator for Utah Diné Bikéyah, a Navajo environmental group that helped design the Bears Ears proposal, called the tactics "despicable and likely criminal."
"This is a clear attempt to turn people against a Bears Ears National Monument by spreading lies, inciting racism and impersonating federal officials," she said.
Lyman had another theory about the fliers.
"I think Diné Bikéyah is generating them," he said. "They post it and say, 'Look, there's racism, and it justifies a national monument.' That sentiment doesn't exist here."

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