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Home BREAKING_HOME_PAGE Pres. Trump signs executive order to review status of Utah’s Bears Ears,...

Pres. Trump signs executive order to review status of Utah’s Bears Ears, other national monuments

Bears Ears National Monument. Photo: Wikipedia

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 26, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning signed an executive order to review the status of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, along with other monuments established under the 1906 Antiquities Act over the past 20 years by the past three presidents.

A second Utah National Monument affected would be Grand Staircase-Escalante, established in 1996.

President Barack Obama established Bears Ears as a national monument in December of last year, and Utah political leaders, including Gov. Gary Herbert and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, immediately began to fight the designation due to its economic impact.

Herbert, Hatch and Lee were present during Trump’s televised announcement that he would sign the executive order. Also present were Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Vice President Mike Pence.

Zinke said the executive order does not remove any national monuments or weaken their environmental protection.

Zinke introduced Pence, who talked about Trump’s accomplishments, then introduced the president, who criticized Obama’s administration, and said control of land should be returned to the states.

Bears Ears is named for two rock cliffs that resemble ears on a bear’s head. The area of the national monument includes multiple archaeological sites, and holds sacred cultural value to Native American peoples.

Environmentalists have voiced strong opposition to the executive order, which many see as a step toward changing or rescinding the monument’s protected status.

Herbert released a statement following the ceremony:

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.

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