Rep. Jason Chaffetz met with President on Tuesday in part to discuss the future of the Bears Ears National Monument. Chaffetz is an opponent of the monument and had worked alongside fellow Utah Rep. Rob Bishop to try and pass the Public Lands Initiative in Congress, decreasing the land available for the monument.
Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, released a statement in response to Chaffetz’s meeting with Trump.
“If this is the same Congressman Chaffetz who just dropped a plan to sell off public lands, then he’s going to have to explain how opening up Bears Ears to private development is any different,” Saeger said. “The bottom line is if you value public lands, you should make sure their value isn’t threatened. If protections for Bears Ears are dropped, that’s exactly what will happen.”
Last week, Chaffetz withdrew legislation that would have handed over 3 million acres of federal land to Western states after receiving complaints from constituents. In a statement, Advocacy Director Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Center for Western Priorities also criticized the meeting.
“Just last week Representative Chaffetz withdrew a piece of anti-public lands legislation after a strong backlash, saying ‘I hear you,”’ Prentice-Dunn said. “In asking President Trump to abolish the Bears Ears National Monument, it’s clear he didn’t get the message.”