In disappointing move, Interior recommends presidential and Congressional action to reduce protections for Bears Ears National Monument
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association
“The Trump administration does not have the legal authority to alter or rescind national monuments. Any move to do so is nothing short of a betrayal to the American people and the land and history we’ve spent generations safeguarding. We cannot and will not stand idly by and let it happen.
“With just 15 days to comment, more than 800,000 people officially registered their support for the full Bears Ears National Monument site to remain protected, as well as tribal and countless community groups and business interests. Bears Ears was deserving of national monument designation, just as the Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty and Muir Woods were, and remains so today.
“Congress has already considered this region for federal protection and was unable to pass legislation that would adequately protect public lands in Southeast Utah. Congress has always had the opportunity to act to protect Bears Ears and has failed.
“Bears Ears shares the landscape with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Natural Bridges National Monument and Canyonlands National Park. Calling for Congress to change the national monument designation leaves the region vulnerable to oil and gas development and looting of invaluable Native American cultural resources. Landscape scale conservation like this promotes natural resiliency, opportunities for collaboration between diverse communities and land management agencies, improved science and stronger management policies.
“We stand with the Inter-tribal coalition in our commitment to help heal and protect these ancestral lands, as a national monument, while leaving a lasting legacy for all Americans. Conservation continues to be targeted in this heated political atmosphere, and our nation’s history, culture and landscapes will suffer as a result.”
BACKGROUND: After hearing from more than 800,000 people that took action in support of protecting Bears Ears as it stands, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today laid out interim recommendations for the management of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
Secretary Zinke’s recommendations call on the president to modify the existing boundary and segment the monument into likely smaller protected areas. Secretary Zinke is also calling for Congress to authorize tribal co-management of the designated cultural areas of the site; to designate national conservation areas or national recreation areas within the existing national monument boundaries; and for Congress to clarify intent of management practices of wilderness within a monument.
Today’s report is the result of an Executive Order (EO) issued by President Trump on April 26, which could dramatically remove important protections for this area and take aim at the Antiquities Act, the law used for the Bears Ears designation.
The Bears Ears National Monument designation reflected collective support from five Native American tribes - Navajo, Hopi, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni - for whom this is a sacred landscape and who recognize how vulnerable this area is to development and looting. It was protected through the Antiquities Act, a bipartisan conservation tool used by nearly every president since 1906 (eight republicans and eight democrats) to declare more than 150 national monuments. The act was passed by a Republican-led Congress and signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. It allows U.S. Presidents to establish national monuments on federal lands—already owned by all Americans.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.2 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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