Gov. Herbert signs resolution urging Feds to downsize Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

A scene from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 18, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday signed a resolution urging federal officials to “reduce or modify the boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.”

Herbert’s action follows Thursday’s announcement that the semi annual Outdoor Retailer show, which had brought millions of dollars to the Utah economy with each winter and summer show for the past 20 years, would find a new location for events due to Utah’s perceived lack of interest in protecting public lands.

Scott Beck, President and CEO of Outdoor Retailer, released a statement about the decision to leave Utah. It reads, in part:

“It’s short-sighted of our elected officials to dismiss the concerns of the outdoor industry and unravel the strong work we’ve done as a city, county and state to support an industry that is important to our economy and to our image as a premier recreation destination. It will be difficult to fill the void when OR leaves our capital city after two-plus decades, but I am confident we will welcome new meetings and conventions, and will welcome them with the world-class hospitality Salt Lake has become so well known for throughout the meetings and convention industry.”

Herbert signed the resolution asking that a lesser amount of land be designated as protected. On Friday evening, he released the following prepared statement:

“The Antiquities Act directs that any national monument designation shall ‘be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’ The 1996 designation by President Bill Clinton of nearly 1.9 million acres as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument violated both the language and intent of the act by setting aside an area far larger than what was necessary to properly protect the objects of concern.

“We must keep the vast size of this monument in perspective. Consider that the combined acreage of Utah’s ‘Mighty Five’ National Parks totals 840,589 acres. The total area protected by Grand Staircase-Escalante is more than two-times the size of our national parks combined.

“I am not opposed to the use of the Antiquities Act, but I am opposed to its abuse. It was this abuse of the act that compelled Gov. Mike Leavitt in 1997 to sign a concurrent resolution opposing the monument; it is what spurred the Utah Legislature to pass a similar joint resolution in 1998; and it is what motivated me to sign a concurrent resolution just two years ago expressing the need for congressional legislation to improve the Antiquities Act to include public participation when creating new national monuments.

“I lend my signature to this resolution to express not only opposition to the manner in which the Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated as a monument, but to call for federal legislative actions to correct this misuse of federal law.”


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