Vaughn Hadenfeldt, wilderness guide, Bluff, Utah
“I don’t believe President Trump has a clue about public lands…I think it’s a travesty what Trump is doing.”
Vaughan Hadenfeldt an outdoor guide and longtime supporter of Bears Ears National Monument had for months feared the news that came on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. On that day, President Donald Trump cut 1.1 million acres of the 1.35-million acre national monument in southeast Utah.
Bears Ears had existed for less than one year.
“I am devastated,” he said two days after Trump’s proclamation, in his living room in Bluff, Utah, with his head hung. “It’s hard to believe (the cuts to Bears Ears are) going to end up being that radical.”
As Hadenfeldt absorbed the news on the day it happened, he felt incensed at the way he heard Bears Ears National Monument mischaracterized during Trump’s signing ceremony in the capitol rotunda in Salt Lake City some 300 miles away.
“I don’t believe President Trump has a clue about public lands, he doesn’t even seem to understand what federal lands are,” said Hadenfeldt, 66. “Calling national monuments ‘land grabs’ is just inappropriate.”
In the summer Hadenfeldt, told about his 2016 interactions with Obama Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. He found her to be transparent, through and conservative in her decision making. By contrast, when he was granted a brief audience in the spring of 2017 with Ryan Zinke, Trump’s Interior Secretary, Zinke upbraided him with semantic questions about the classification of artifacts inside Bears Ears National Monument. Hadenfeldt was aghast at how reckless Zinke seemed as compared to Jewell.
“The Zinke meeting was an opportunity for him to wave his finger at us, in my opinion you don’t have people like that being secretary of the interior,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like anything would help, not facts, not science, not what the majority of the people want — it doesn’t seem like any of that matters to the administration.”
Based on the Antiquities Act, the law created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to protect cultural artifacts and scientific wonders, Hadenfeldt is baffled by what what relevant criteria was used to abolish so much of Bears Ears National Monument. Based on his long history hiking the land, Hadenfeldt knows of multitudes of areas that Trump and Zinke cut out of the monument that are filled with artifacts — now getting looted more and more often.
“I’m not opposed to what they left in the new monument,” he said. “I’m opposed to everything they left out.”
Hadenfeldt said the only thing to do now was to hope that the numerous lawsuits filed against Trump would invalidate his proclamation.
Meanwhile, he felt woe.
“I think it’s a travesty what Trump is doing,” he said.