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Hi Bill: Thank you for reaching out for comment.

A friend of mine alerted me about your blog post yesterday. I was, of course, livid that anyone
affiliated with our organization might have made such an outlandishly inappropriate and patently
false statement to someone visiting our Education Center.

As a very moderate person with ranching and deeply religious roots, I've worked hard to build an
organization that seeks at every turn to foster respect and civility, even when we might disagree
with our neighbors on emotionally charged issues, like the size of Bears Ears National
Monument. As you may know, I served on the SJCo Public Lands Council. Doing so, I quickly
learned that we have much more in common than we have disagreements, regardless of where
we are from and where we go to church. There's absolutely no good to come from assuming the
worst of neighbors, and it's just plain wrong to assume people of faith don't want to see their
backyards preserved and visitors educated about how to minimize their impacts while visiting
sites sacred to Tribes and Pueblos. The entire point of the Bears Ears Education Center is to
focus on something we can all agree on, which is the need for everyone to Visit with
Respect. FCM's leadership wants the Center to be a space that is welcoming and respectful of

Furthermore, it's completely inaccurate for anyone to assert that religion had any bearing,
whatsoever, in the choice of a location for our Education Center. We are a Bluff-based non-
profit, focused on protecting the culturally rich public lands of southern San Juan County. All of
our employees and several board members live here. It was a huge enough lift to open one visitor
center, in our home town, little lone try to open multiple centers in communities that already
have public-lands focused visitor centers. Yes, many people visit Bears Ears from points north,
but many come from the south and east as well. And even those coming from the north often
come through Bluff to visit Comb Ridge, Valley of the Gods, the San Juan River and even Cedar
Mesa. We also needed offices for our organizational operations, which only made sense to co-
locate with the Center, and a supporter of ours gave us a great deal on the building. So really,
there was never any consideration for locating the Center somewhere other than Bluff.

Given all this, I've asked our staff to talk with all our volunteers and re-iterate our commitment
to respectful, factual information dispersal at the Education Center, regardless of the visitor's
own biases and viewpoints.

I've also asked staff to see if they can find out which volunteer may have talked with you and
find out his/her side of the story. It's clear from your blog post that you have a strong bias in your
viewpoint (your 1st Amendment right, of course) and make a number of incorrect assertions (I
wish you tried a bit harder to fact check yourself). Given this, I don't assume you have told the
entire story about your conversation or its context. Not knowing you from Adam, I have to give
our volunteers some benefit of the doubt, given that I know they are generally wonderful people
who donate thousands of hours to protecting public lands in southeastern Utah every year.

Should your version of the story turn out to be true, I will be very disappointed indeed. But we
will this situation as a learning opportunity for all of our staff and volunteers. FCM strives to be
a leader in civil, respectful, fact-based conversation, and we urge everyone to avoid making
stereotype-based comments that add fuel to San Juan County's already tense public

I apologize that the requested comment is lengthy. But I hope you will do your best to include as
much of it in your piece as you can. It's always frustrating to me when stories on difficult topics
overly paraphrase and don't quote the involved parties fully.


Josh Ewing
Executive Director