Utah officials file lawsuit over ‘unlawful designation’ of Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante as Nat’l Monuments

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photo: BLM.gov

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 24, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes filed a lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah against what he called “President Biden’s unlawful designation” of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante as national monuments.

A news release issued by Reyes‘ office says Utah’s elected leaders, including Governor Spencer Cox, Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson, and Senate President J. Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson, State Auditor John Dougall, Treasurer Marlo Oaks, U.S. Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, and Congressmen Chris Stewart, John Curtis, Burgess Owens, and Blake Moore all joined the Attorney General with the following statement:

These public lands and sacred sites are a stewardship that none of us take lightly. The archeological, paleontological, religious, recreational, and geologic values need to be harmonized and protected. Rather than guarding those resources, President Biden’s unlawful designations place them all at greater risk.

The vast size of the expanded Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments draws unmanageable visitation levels to these lands without providing any of the tools necessary to adequately conserve and protect these resources.

A congressional solution would be the more effective path for the conservation and management of Utah lands. This would include collaboration from state and federal agencies, tribal nations, local governments, citizens, the legislature, and Utah’s congressional delegation. A congressional solution could better guard the area’s resources by ensuring tribal access to sacred sites, providing federal agencies with the management tools and funding they need, channeling visitation into appropriate protected locations, and giving local communities the funding and flexibility they need to thrive economically.

We now challenge this repeated, abusive federal overreach to ensure that our public lands are adequately protected and that smart stewardship remains with the people closest to the land.

The new lawsuit argues that the size of the two national monuments, covering vast landscapes of a combined 3.2 million acres, violates the Antiquities Act of 1906, which limits U.S. presidents to create monuments “confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected,” the statement from the Utah A.G. Office says.

Bears Ears National Monument. Photo: BLM Utah/Flickr

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