Review of National Monuments

Most of the land within the states of Utah and Arizona are federally managed. There are various management designations which allow for specific use or non-use, depending on the designation. On April 26, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of 27 Monument designations made by presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives the executive the power to set aside lands for protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources. At issue is whether these Presidents overstepped their authority in setting some monuments aside. According to Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, “No President should use the authority under the Antiquities Act to restrict public access, prevent hunting and fishing, burden private land, or eliminate traditional land uses unless such action is needed to protect the object.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was given the task of evaluating these monuments to determine whether the boundaries fit within the legal definitions set forth in the Antiquities Act and that public concerns be heard, with local government officials and others claiming that the monument designations were made without adequate concern for local interests.

Of the 27 monuments that were placed under review, six resided within the states of Utah and Arizona. Of those six, four were within proximity of our area. Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in Utah, as well as Grand Parashaunt and Vermillion Cliffs National Monuments in Arizona. Over the course of the 120-day review period, Secretary Zinke has visited eight national monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Having completed the review, there are no recommendations that any of the 27 monuments be eliminated. However, Secretary Zinke is said to be proposing changes to a handful of monuments, including Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears in Utah. There was no recommendation to make changes to any of the Arizona designations. There is no word on the specifics of these plans but the cuts are rumored to be extensive. Secretary Zinke states, “The recommendations I sent to the president on national monuments will maintain federal ownership of all federal land and protect the land under federal environmental regulations, and also provide a much-needed change for the local communities who border and rely on these lands for hunting and fishing, economic development, traditional uses, and recreation.”

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