Letter to the Editor by Veronica Egan

On the same day as the tragic Tucson shootings of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others, there was a story (Durango Herald, Jan. 8th) about homemade “Wanted Dead or Alive” posters found around Blanding, Utah. The posters said members of the nonprofit conservation group Great Old Broads for Wilderness were not allowed in Utah’s San Juan County.

Great Old Broads has been active in southern Utah for many years, monitoring the impacts of unmanaged motorized recreation, among other things. We were instrumental in the temporary closure of an illegally constructed all-terrain-vehicle trail on Bureau of Land Management land in Recapture Canyon near Blanding, Utah. Felony criminal charges have been filed for at least two people involved in its construction. Obviously, there are some people who feel our watching over this canyon has led to unacceptable outcomes, and they are lashing out.

We are not the only conservation group to receive threats from those who disagree with our work. There is an element in the West that believes that anyone not born locally should have no say in the management of local public lands.

We and others in the conservation community often work in these remote areas, and do not believe that we should be targets of threats of violence by anonymous, disgruntled individuals. They are entitled to their opinions, but not to menacing behavior.

This sort of inflammatory rhetoric only contributes to the shrill, unproductive tone of public discourse that divides us and makes meaningful dialogue impossible. It should be repudiated by public agencies, news media and responsible citizens.

We at Great Old Broads for Wilderness and our colleagues in the western conservation community have not been dissuaded from continuing our work on public lands advocating for responsible land-management policies, nor are we viewing the aforementioned posters as a mere prank. We believe that intimidation and threats are not indicative of the sentiments of the majority of southeastern Utah residents and hope that responsible citizens everywhere will make it clear that such tactics, in whatever form, will no longer be tolerated.

Veronica Egan, executive director, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Durango

Durango Herald – January 17, 2011