Rep. Gosar Applauds Secretary Zinke Interim Report on Bears Ears

Jun 12, 2017

For Immediate Release

Date: June 12, 2017

Contact: Kelly Roberson

Kelly.Roberson@mail.house.gov

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's submitted a 45-day interim report on Bears Ears National Monument to President Donald J. Trump and the Department released a statement:

“I applaud Secretary Zinke for recognizing President Obama acted inappropriately when unilaterally designating the massive 1.5 million acre Bears Ears national monument and for recommending that this bureaucratic monstrosity be reduced,” stated Congressman Gosar. “The Secretary put a lot of effort into this report and personally spent time listening and learning from those whose daily activities, livelihoods and traditions are hindered and directly jeopardized by this new monument in Utah. The Obama administration turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to these communities and blatantly trampled the spirit and letter of the Antiquities Act by designating more than 553 million acres as national monuments over the course of eight years with the stroke of a pen. A far cry from ‘the smallest area compatible’ required by the Antiquities Act, I have seen less gluttony at a hot dog eating contest.

“The people of Utah do not want this monument that wrestles both state and private land from their hands in an overt attack on federalism. And tribes in Utah certainly do not want to see their sacred lands converted into federal lands that are sure to be threatened by mismanagement. I encourage the Trump Administration to fully rescind this gross overreach by the Obama administration, go back to the drawing board on Bears Ears and work with Congress as well as local stakeholders  to find a viable and carefully crafted solution.”

 

Background

On April 26, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) 13792 directing Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Ryan Zinke to conduct a review of the 1906 Antiquities Act and massive monuments designated in recent years. Members of the Western Caucus praised this review in a press release found HERE.

As a result of the president’s EO, DOI identified 27 National Monuments eligible for review.

The EO directed the Secretary to provide an interim report within 45 days addressing the Bears Ears national monument (BENM) and a final report summarizing the findings of the review for all other monument designations covered by the EO.  

The 45-day Bears Ears interim report can be found HERE.

A press release from the Department of the Interior on the interim report and announcing extension the formal public comment period for Bears Ears through July 10th can be found HERE.

On December 16, 2016, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop and Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar sent then President-Elect Trump a letter raising serious concerns and recommending the last-minute monument be repealed.

On May 5, 2017, Rep. Gosar wrote an op-ed discussing President Trump’s EO, Bears Ears and past abuse of the Antiquities Act, which can be found HERE.

On May 26, 2017, the Utah Delegation sent a letter to Secretary Zinke urging “a full rescission of Utah’s most excessive monument”, including Bears Ears.

On December 28, 2016, President Obama signed Proclamation No. 9558.

Last Congress, Rep. Gosar introduced H.R. 3946, the Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act, legislation which sought to reform the 1906 Antiquities Act in order to protect property rights, water rights and jobs from presidential abuse.

The president’s ability to set aside land for monuments and national parks comes from the outdated Antiquities Act of 1906, which was originally intended to protect prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts on federal lands in the West. More than one hundred years later, the original intent of this law, which included language to limit these designations to “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects,” has been significantly abused. Compared to early application of the Antiquities Act, where the average size of a national monument was merely 422 acres, in recent years it became commonplace for a monument to exceed a million acres in size.

President Obama exceeded the intent of the Antiquities Act more than any other president in the history of this nation. With designation of the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the 300,000 acre Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, President Obama designated or expanded 34 national monuments, more than any other president in history. These unilateral declarations locked-up 553,555,000 million acres of land and water.

National monument designations under the Antiquities Act typically have significant consequences that negatively affect grazing rights, water rights, wildfire prevention and other land management activities. These declarations also result in some of the most restrictive land-use regulations possible and also greatly impact hunting, fishing, OHV and other recreational activities.

Unilateral designations that circumvent Congress typically result in devastating consequences for rural America and our future economic prosperity. For every new acre claimed for the federal government, there is an acre of private land lost. Such actions exacerbate challenges for local communities to fund things like education and infrastructure as lands that are added to the federal rolls can no longer be taxed.

Courtesy of the Department of the Interior

In May, Secretary Zinke traveled to Utah and held a four-day listening tour across the state to learn more about Bears Ears National Monument and the neighboring Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. When accounting for state and private land within the boundaries, the perimeter of Bears Ears encompasses almost 1.5 million acres. This is four times larger than the Canyonlands—the largest national park in Utah. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is 1.7 million acres.

“I spent a lot of time on the ground in Utah, talking with people and understanding the natural and cultural significance of the area. There is no doubt that it is drop-dead gorgeous country and that it merits some degree of protection, but designating a monument that - including state land- encompasses almost 1.5 million-acres where multiple-use management is hindered or prohibited is not the best use of the land and is not in accordance with the intention of the Antiquities Act,” said Secretary Ryan Zinke. “I’ve submitted my 45-day interim report to President Trump expressing my belief that the monument needs to be right-sized and that it is absolutely critical that an appropriate part be co-managed by the Tribal nations. I also recommend that Congress take action to protect some areas.”

“Having conducted the review set forth in section 2 of the Order, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and based on information to date, I find the designation of the BENM does not fully conform with policies set forth in section 1 of the Order.”

“Specifically, the review shows that rather than designating an area encompassing almost 1.5 million acres as a national monument, it would have been more appropriate to identify and separate the areas that have significant objects to be protected to meet the act, including that the area reserved be limited to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objectives."

 

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