President Trump Orders Review Of Utah Monuments

Apr 26, 2017

Credit doi.gov

President Donald Trump signed an executive order to review twenty years of presidential monument designations on Wednesday. 

The Interior Department's review will include all designations larger than 100,000 acres made since 1996, including the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument and the 1.9 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

State leaders blame the monuments for harming local economies by reducing grazing access, mineral and gas development, and recreational use.

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman said the citizens of his county were anticipating Trump's order.

"We are certainly looking forward to it. This other group, they seem to think that whatever they want they should get. But to come in and take, nonconsensually, what is being discussed and offered in a relationship of trust -- to me, that's the entire problem," he said. "You can't reward that type of behavior. It needs to be rescinded for just that purpose alone; just to say that's not the way we treat people and that's what they've done to the people here in Blanding and San Juan County."

Tim Peterson, director of the the Grand Canyon Trust's Utah Wildlands Program, argues that the federal government did collaborate with Utah and the monuments have not had such a dramatic effect.

"There were documents released recently by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform which detail a history of a lengthy correspondence," Peterson said. "In terms of negative impacts, they often talk about grazing being impacted. However, both proclamations for the Grand Staircase and for Bears Ears mandate that grazing continue. And there really isn't a great potential for mineral development in Bears Ears."

Natasha Hale, director of the Native American Program  for the trust, says tribal leaders were recently ignored by the Interior department and are disappointed with the executive order.

"When Secretary Zinke came into office, he said, 'Sovereignty should mean something,' and the tribes took this as a good sign," she said. "Yet, he has not answered any of their letters or any of their requests to meet. So this feels like a blow to the tribe -- they're not happy about it -- but they're going to continue to push for the monument to stay intact."

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is expected to deliver the recommendation within 45 days.