I have a sneaking suspicion that what I'm about to write is going to be perceived as insensitive. I can assure you it's not intended that way; it's just that I've always thought it was kind of funny and I wanted to use it as an intro for this week's column.
I've been doing a bunch of research recently on Browns Canyon National Monument, which many of you may not realize is now a thing. It's over on the other side of Independence Pass from Aspen, on the far side of the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida, roughly.
With its towering sandstone arches, out-of-this-world views, and miles of rugged landscape, Arches and Canyonlands are like no other places on Earth. But when the sun goes down, that's when the real show starts.
Tar-sands mining is a terrible idea anywhere for all kinds of reasons, but the idea of doing it right next door to some of our greatest national parks, in one of the most spectacular wilderness landscapes of North America, is like slashing the Mona Lisa with a box cutter.
The Interior Secretary has announced that he is canceling all 77 contested leases surrounding some of Utah's most stunning national parks. This redrock wilderness can now remain part of our natural heritage.