Another Utah county joins the battle against Bears Ears land grab

A majority of Utah politicians, almost all of them Republicans, have argued the measure could crush already-struggling rural economies across the southern end of the state and sow even more resentment among communities already deeply distrustful of the federal government.

Washington County joins chorus rejecting Bears Ears proposal

The Washington County Commission voted Tuesday to pass a resolution opposing the creation of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.

The heated debate over Bears Ears has grown more intense in recent weeks, with the majority of Utah’s Republican leadership warning a national monument designation is imminent as President Barack Obama nears the end of his second term — the president has the authority to unilaterally declare a monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

A majority of Utah politicians, almost all of them Republicans, have argued the measure could crush already-struggling rural economies across the southern end of the state and sow even more resentment among communities already deeply distrustful of the federal government.

“At the end of the day it’s really bad management policy on the ground and it ends up not protecting what they claim to want to protect,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said. “It ends up hurting the local communities as well.”

Washington County joins a growing list of Utah counties who have chimed in on the proposal, which would set aside some 1.9 million acres of rugged mountains, sandstone canyonlands and archaeological sites that cover some 3,500 years of human habitation.

A coalition of American Indian tribal leaders, backed by conservationists, archaeologists and others, proposed the monument as a way to add much-needed protections for the scenic lands, which are centered around the iconic twin peaks known as Bears Ears.

“The Bears Ears region faces urgent threats from looting and vandalism,” according to a written statement from the Inter-Tribal Coalition, which proposed the monument. “Destructive uranium, oil and gas, and potash mining projects are being proposed. Unnecessary and damaging roads are on the drawing boards. Protection for this important cultural landscape cannot be delayed any longer.”

Federal officials have said they want to enact new protections for the Bear Ears area before the end of Obama’s term, although they’ve yet to say whether a monument designation would be the only way to do it.

After her four-day trip to Utah this summer, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she saw a clear need to do something quickly.

“For decades, support has been growing from local communities, tribal nations, state leaders, Congress and even former Secretaries of the Interior to preserve these stunning lands and protect their cultural importance for generations to come,” she said.

The majority of the state’s Republican leadership has backed the Public Lands Initiative, legislation developed by U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz as an alternative to monument designation.

Arguing their bill would better balance development and recreation with new protections, the two congressmen say they held more than 1,200 meetings with stakeholders to craft legislation that would allow more local influence on what happens in the area around Bear Ears, along with some 18 million acres of federally-owned land spread across seven Utah counties.

“Native Utahns have long been asking for greater ability to manage and control the public lands within the borders of the state,” Bishop said. “The president can’t give them that. Only Congress can.”

The PLI has the support of local leaders within the Utah Legislature and the San Juan County Commission, as well as many local residents and some Native American tribal leaders.

David DeMille

The Spectrum

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*Free Range Report*

 

One comment

  • Michael Nielson Lyman

    Most of the people that comprise the Inter – Tribal Coalition don’t even know where the Bears Ears are located. They just go about spewing their lies and propaganda about why a monument is needed. Of course they are shoved deeply into the back pockets of the environmentalists and the big outdoor retailers, whose number one goal is to gain power and control over people. The very thought of locking up 1.9 million acres of land so you can herd millions of tourists in to destroy it is mind altering. But it pretty much is aligned with where we American citizens have arrived after decades of unbridled liberalism and every other kind of ism you can imagine. Its time to straighten up our spines, come out of our comfort zones, and do anything we can to right the sinking ship that is our American culture and way of life. The Bundy’s did something, and they are rotting illegally in prison. LaVoy Finicum did something, and he was murdered by government hired cowards. I for one do not intend to live under a dictatorship which is what we have had for the last eight years under the Obama administration. And all the while, the republicans who are supposed to be representing us, were cowering in a corner with their tails between their legs. Downright sad state of affairs. I will never accept the Bears Ears and surrounding 1.9 million acres of land as a national monument. Not ever. Michael Nielson Lyman.

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