Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Home to the Center for Rural Resilience and Workforce Development.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
Preserving Land — and the Grand Staircase-Escalante
Today there were eight of us huddled under the awning of a small museum in the town
of Boulder, Utah watching it rain. The museum employee informed the group, including
a local cowboy who had stopped by with his family for lunch and was wearing honest
to goodness spurs, that we were seeing the first rain of the year.
I had come to this small, remote community to see their Anasazi Museum and learn more
about the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This remote corner of south-central
Utah has a connection to Arkansas, because it was President Clinton who created it
by presidential decree in 1996. He set aside 1.9 million acres in a surprise move,
relying on the 1906 Antiquities Act, to prevent the opening of a coal strip mine in
the middle of the largest track of wilderness in the lower 48 states.
This move was lauded by environmentalists and condemned by state officials, ranches
and mining interests. By 2009 Congress had stepped into the fray and, by swapping
some Federally owned land for some state land and paying some $50 million to the State
of Utah, the National legislators officially approved the newly created National Monument
that is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Then in 2018, President Trump,
by presidential proclamation, reduced the size of the Monument by almost one half.
Lawsuits, of course, are still pending.
I had a captive audience under the canopy, so I asked what the locals thought about
the creation of the National Monument. The cowboy, replied, “Ain’t nothin’ changed.
About the same as it has always been.” The museum employee, herself married to a cattleman,
said “About half the people support the Monument, about half oppose it. The problem
is we have no infrastructure. We even have volunteer emergency services. We just aren’t
set up to handle lots of people.”
My morning coffee at the liars table at a local cafe produced similar responses. There
were three of them; an artist, a good old boy who had considered running for elected
office and a government employee of some sort who would correct statements when they
got too far from the actual facts.
Locals didn’t like the idea of people from far off Washington deciding what happened
to their land but they all supported protecting the land. It was that very infrastructure
that divided them. Paving roads, said one, will only open up the land and bring in
more people. Another said, but the ranchers want more paved roads to make their life
easier, but they are not fans of the National Monument designation. A third thought
that maybe some mining should be allowed because cobalt was going to be important
as we transition to electric cars. All agreed that coal mining and oil and gas drilling
was never likely to be big because there is just no water here. And fracking and most
forms of mining require water.
I tried to make contact with BLM overseers at two visitors centers, but both seemed
“closed for the season”, so I’m missing this important piece of the conversation.
A three-day visit hardly makes me an expert on the Grand Staircase-Escalante, but
I will share my opinions and observations. First, this is a big piece of land at the
heart of the rugged Colorado Plateau. The state of Delaware has just over 1.2 million
acres, but with 1.9 million acres this place probably has fewer than 10,000 people.
Probably much fewer. After spending half an hour looking for a proper breakfast today,
I ended up at the Subway at the local gas station. I was the only customer, so I asked,
“Is this the slow season?” “Oh no, we’ve been really busy since March.” Busy? Officially,
the monument gets 800,000 visitors per year, but spread over such a vast landscape,
they get lost.
My second observation is that the Monument has a fragile beauty equal to that of nearby
National Parks. Boondocking in some of this back country, I was struck by how fragile
the land is. The rocks may endure, but the dusty land is like talcum powder. Campsites
that have only a tiny fraction of the traffic as the roadways, are as devoid of vegetation
as the long, washboarded dirt roads.
This Monument is in a state of metamorphosis. It will probably never see the crush
of visitors as nearby parks such as Brice Canyon or Zion, but without some controls
and rule setting, that which we treasure and strive to protect will be severely damaged.
Tough choices lie ahead about allowing people to do whatever they want with the land
versus controlling some activities to ensure a more sustainable future.
Gerald Klingaman is a retired Arkansas Extension Horticulturist and retired Operations
Director for the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. After more than two decades of penning the popular Plant of the Week column, he’s taking a new direction, offering views on nature as he pokes about the
state and nation. Views and opinions reflect those of the author and are not those
of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. If you have questions
or comments for Dr. Klingaman about these articles contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.