Groups, Tribes Battle Trump's Plan to Develop Utah Monuments
Monday, February 10, 2020
MONTICELLO, Utah -- Advocacy groups are upset -- though not surprised -- by the Trump administration's plan to open up almost 1 million acres of public lands in Utah for development. The Bureau of Land Management last week announced a plan to lease lands that were part of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to mineral development, mining and recreational interests, starting in 2021.
The move angered both tribal groups and conservationists, who have been fighting the move since President Donald Trump signed an executive order in 2017 reducing the protected portions of the two monuments. Steve Bloch, an attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said the plan confirms their worst fears about the government's intentions.
"We're incredibly disappointed with the results," Bloch said. "Plans prioritize energy development and extractive use, motorized-vehicle use throughout the majority of the lands that have been excluded from national monument status."
The plan is supported in Utah by the governor, both U.S. senators and a majority of the state Legislature. The BLM has said they're confident they can both manage development on the public lands and protect the environment.
Shortly after the 2017 directive, an alliance of conservation organizations along with five Native American tribes sued the federal government to reverse the president's order. Bloch said the case still is in litigation, but by the time it is resolved, permanent damage could already be done.
"The plans are going to result in the widespread destruction of many of the cultural and paleontological resources that make those monuments so important," he said.
Bloch said the Bears Ears monument contains tens of thousands of cultural artifacts and rare rock art, while the rock layers of Grand Staircase have yielded 75 million-year-old dinosaur fossils. He said they will continue to work to block development interests from destroying the area's treasures.
"These plans are not going to be the final chapter for the management of these remarkable federal public lands," Bloch said. "We're confident that the litigation that we've brought will be successful, that the president's attack on the monuments was illegal and that the monuments will be fully restored."
Bloch added the BLM proposal won't become final until Oct. 1, and he hopes his group's lawsuit will prevail in time to keep the administration from carrying out the plan.
get more stories like this via email
RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia's General Assembly Special Session begins today to budget more than $4 billion in federal COVID relief funds, and advocates …
ROSLINDALE, Mass. - A new report finds Massachusetts residents would rather repair electronic devices than send them to landfills, but manufacturers …
DENVER-During the COVID health emergency, the federal government made school meals available for free to all students, regardless of their financial …
HELENA, Mont. - COVID-19 is underscoring the importance of ensuring that people's estates are in order, but estate planning can be be tricky for …
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Pandemic fallout still has U.S. states clawing their way back to normalcy, and New Mexico believes its decision to provide more …
CONCORD, N.H. - New polling finds many New Hampshire voters think it's important that wealthy individuals and corporations pay what's described as …
AMARILLO, Texas - The American Farm Bureau Federation hosts more than 100 college level chapters across 35 states, but this is the first time its …
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - As activists mark more than 100 days of protest since the April 21 death of Andrew Brown Junior - killed outside his Elizabeth …