WASHINGTON, April 9, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — As Interior Secretary Deb Haaland departed from Utah Friday after a three-day visit to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, officials issued a statement.
U.S. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT), Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Blake Moore (R-UT), with Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Attorney General Sean Reyes, Senate President Stuart Adams, and Speaker of the House Brad Wilson, issued the following:
“We appreciate Secretary Haaland’s visit and thank her and her team for taking time to meet with us and with state, local, and tribal leaders as part of the ongoing review of these monuments. During these discussions, we reiterated our desire to find a permanent legislative solution, which we believe is the only path to finally resolving the longstanding dispute over the monuments’ boundaries and management.
“If the administration decides to act unilaterally, a legislative solution that provides certainty will be nearly impossible to achieve. And without protections against the Antiquities Act, Utah is left vulnerable to the whim of future presidents. We continue to urge the administration to work with us to craft a collaborative, consensus plan that reflects the input of the people most directly impacted and ends the political back-and-forth that our communities have been subjected to for more than 25 years.”
Those same Utah officials issued the following statement last month in response to the news that Haaland was to visit the state:
“As Utah leaders, we urged the administration to extend the 60-day timeline outlined in President Biden’s executive order calling for a review of our national monuments and invited Secretary Haaland to visit Utah to tour the monuments and engage state, local, and tribal leaders. We are encouraged that the administration has extended the deadline for review of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, and we welcome Secretary Haaland’s decision to travel to Utah, tour the monuments in question, and receive meaningful input from the local elected officials and residents.
“Her trip to Utah will allow her the opportunity to speak with the people who live and work on the lands, whose voices may otherwise go unheard, before making any recommendations to the President. We are also confident that this trip will successfully highlight the need for a permanent legislative solution for determining appropriate boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, with statutory protections to prevent abuses under the Antiquities Act for the state of Utah. We look forward to continuing our work on these issues with Secretary Haaland after her visit.”
Biden’s executive order called for the submission of the secretary’s report within 60 days or by March 21. However, the Interior Department has since announced that the secretary would release her report this month after her visit.
The department said in a statement: “The Interior Department’s report to the president on national monuments, as called for in Executive Order 14008, will reflect those conversations and will be transmitted to the White House following the trip.”
During Trump administration, former President Trump reduced the size of the monuments by some two million acres.