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Utah leaders call monument expansions unlawful

'A congressional solution would be the more effective path,' state leaders say.

Farm Press Staff

August 29, 2022

2 Min Read
Picturesque scene in Utah

Utah state leaders are urging Congress to step in and resolve their dispute with the federal government over plans to expand two national monuments, which were downsized by then-President Donald Trump.

The size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears monuments were slashed after the sites were designated by former President Bill Clinton and reaffirmed by President Barack Obama, The Associated Press reported.

In deciding to restore the monuments’ original sizes, President Joe Biden invoked tribal rights, calling Bears Ears “a place of healing … a place of reverence, a sacred homeland to hundreds of generations of native peoples," according to the AP.

Last week, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah against Biden's expansion of the monuments. Utah’s elected leaders, including Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, State Auditor John Dougall, Treasurer Marlo Oaks, and Senate President J. Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson, U.S. Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, and Congressmen Chris Stewart, John Curtis, Burgess Owens, and Blake Moore all joined the Attorney General with the following statement:

 “These public lands and sacred sites are a stewardship that none of us take lightly. The archeological, paleontological, religious, recreational, and geologic values need to be harmonized and protected. Rather than guarding those resources, President Biden’s unlawful designations place them all at greater risk.

“The vast size of the expanded Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments draws unmanageable visitation levels to these lands without providing any of the tools necessary to adequately conserve and protect these resources.

“A congressional solution would be the more effective path for the conservation and management of Utah lands. This would include collaboration from state and federal agencies, tribal nations, local governments, citizens, the legislature, and Utah’s congressional delegation. A congressional solution could better guard the area’s resources by ensuring tribal access to sacred sites, providing federal agencies with the management tools and funding they need, channeling visitation into appropriate protected locations, and giving local communities the funding and flexibility they need to thrive economically.

“We now challenge this repeated, abusive federal overreach to ensure that our public lands are adequately protected and that smart stewardship remains with the people closest to the land.”

Today’s lawsuit argues that the size of the two national monuments, covering vast landscapes of a combined 3.2 million acres, violates the Antiquities Act of 1906, which limits U.S. presidents to create monuments “confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

Source: Office of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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