Sally Jewell

20th anniversary of Utah monument stirs strong emotions

As Utah waits to see if President Barack Obama will designate a new national monument in the state, this weekend's 20th anniversary of another national monument rekindled memories of an event that ignited simmering western frustrations about federal ownership of public land.

President Bill Clinton created the Grand Staircase Escalante-National Monument on Sept. 18, 1996, by signing a declaration at the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It was lauded by environmentalists, with actor and Utah resident Robert Redford appearing at the ceremony with Clinton.

But in heavily Republican Utah, he move was viewed as a sneaky, stab-in-the back example of federal...