I appreciate President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary Zinke’s comments and actions today to address the historical abuse of the Antiquities Act. The review ordered is critically important and holds the potential for a great restoration of integrity.
Throughout its history, the state of Utah has had something of a Jekyll and Hyde relationship with the act. We have been the beneficiary of assertive, yet measured, presidential action using this tool; but we have also felt a deep and lasting burden when it has been misused.
Four of Utah’s five magnificent national parks began as national monuments. Utah is proud of these parks, but the associated monument designations were small, appropriate and fell within the clear scope and intent of the law. These designations encompassed the smallest area necessary to protect the objects in question. They were also largely brought about with the support of local impacted communities and with the support of Utah’s leaders.
Utah, however, has also experienced a great downside of the Antiquities Act as it began to be misused. We know firsthand what happens when the law is abused for unworthy political purposes. The Grand Staircase Escalante designation and the recent controversial Bears Ears designation are key examples of this, and I am confident that the upcoming review will lead to positive outcomes for Utah and for those who call the beautiful Bears Ears area home.
I am grateful to President Trump for undertaking this important process. Utah looks forward to continually working with the president’s administration to ensure that the Antiquities Act is restored to its proper scope and use. It is time for a course correction.