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Southern Utah News Front Page: April 15, 2021
U.S. Secretary of the Interior visits Kane County April 9
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, center, surrounded by BLM staff in Kanab on Friday, April 9. Photo Courtesy of Harry Barber.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland wrapped several days of field visits and meetings in Utah with elected officials, Tribal leaders, and stakeholders invested in the stewardship of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The Secretary was in the state as part of the Biden administration’s review of the monuments’ boundaries and management conditions.
“This has been a special trip, and I deeply appreciate the many people who took time to share their wisdom, perspectives, and prayers with me,” said Secretary Haaland. “How we manage public lands and national monuments is important – not just to the Tribes and ranchers and elected leaders and others who I met with this week, but to the many generations to come.
“I look forward to sharing what I heard and saw with President Biden so he has the benefit of these perspectives as we chart a path forward on the stewardship of these incredible culturally rich places.”
During her visit, Secretary Haaland received a briefing on the national monuments from Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service employees. She visited the Bears Ears Education Center in Bluff, a place run by Friends of Cedar Mesa where visitors can learn about the national monument and how to respectfully visit the important natural and cultural landscapes.
She also toured the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, where she saw cultural artifacts and Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) pottery. She also met with paleontologist Dr. Alan Titus, who showed her fossils from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Over the course of the three days, Secretary Haaland met with Tribal leaders from the five Tribes in the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and other Indigenous-led organizations. She met with Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, and Reps. John Curtis, Blake Moore, Burgess Owens, and Chris Stewart. She also held a series of listening sessions in both Kane and San Juan Counties that included state, county and city leaders, local ranchers, conservation organizations, local business owners, mining companies, outdoor recreation permit holders, paleontologists, and archaeologists.
On Thursday morning, Secretary Haaland was joined by Hopi Tribe Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe White Mesa Representative Malcom Lehi, Pueblo of Zuni Lt. Governor Carleton Bowekay, Gov. Cox, Lt. Gov. Henderson, Sen. Mitt Romney, and Rep. Blake Moore in the Bears Ears region. During their hikes, they saw cliff dwellings, pictographs, and other sacred sites that are located inside and outside of the national monument boundaries determined by President Trump.
“I am humbled by the hospitality that was shown to me this week. In particular, the hardworking career professionals at the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service went above and beyond, especially given the pandemic-related restrictions of our visit. I am grateful to know they are here to manage these lands,” added Secretary Haaland.
Prior to the Utah visit, administration officials from the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture held Tribal consultations and met with Utah leaders, including Utah Governor Cox; members of the Utah congressional delegation; representatives from Kane, Garfield, San Juan, and Grand Counties of Utah; members of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition; non-profit organizations; and small business owners.
U.S. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), 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 this statement following Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s visit to Utah to discuss the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
“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.”