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In response to news that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has delivered his monuments report to the White House, SUWA executive director Scott Groene released the following statement:
“Secretary Zinke’s illegal recommendations to the President are the latest salvo in this administration’s attacks on America’s public lands. It’s outrageous that after 99% of the more than 2.8 million comments received by the Secretary supported keeping our monuments protected, Secretary Zinke is still recommending the President illegally attack our national treasures. President Trump should throw this report away.”
The Trump administration asked for your opinion on their plans to reduce Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and 25 other national monuments across the country—and you gave them an earful.
Thanks to SUWA members and supporters like you, along with millions of concerned citizens across the nation, the Trump administration received more than 2.7 million comments in SUPPORT of our national monuments during their public comment period, which ended Monday. Comments in favor of keeping our national monuments intact outnumbered those opposed to national monuments by a staggering 98 to 1.
And more than one million of those comments specifically mentioned support for Bears Ears, which is the first target on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s list of endangered monuments.
Will this outpouring of support make a difference? That remains to be seen. Secretary Zinke has already indicated that he wants to see Bears Ears shrunk, perhaps dramatically. The fate of Grand Staircase-Escalante remains an open question, which should be answered when Secretary Zinke issues his final report on August 24th.
We hope that this tremendous show of support for national monuments will give Secretary Zinke pause and convince the administration that there is no political victory in eviscerating America’s natural and cultural heritage.
But if it doesn’t change their minds, and they try to shrink Bears Ears or Grand Staircase-Escalante, we’ll take them to court.
And we’ll take them to court knowing that we have the backing of thousands of people like you, people who are willing to stand up and speak out on behalf of the redrock—any time, any place, and no matter the odds.
Thank you for being such a critical part of the SUWA team.
This coming Monday, July 10, is the final day for you to tell Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that he and President Trump need to leave Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments intact.
Click here to submit your comment to the Department of Interior today.
On June 12th, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke issued an interim report recommending that Bears Ears National Monument be significantly reduced in size—a move that simultaneously dishonored Native American Tribes and ignored the input of hundreds of thousands of American citizens.
Meanwhile, Secretary Zinke has invited local counties to submit revised boundaries for Grand Staircase-Escalante—a well established monument celebrated for revitalizing local communities and yielding stunning paleontological discoveries.
With both monuments under siege, a strong record of public support is essential. If you haven’t made your voice heard yet, now is the time. Tell Secretary Zinke to leave Utah’s monuments alone!
Your comments are urgently needed. Please take action today.
San Juan, Kane and Garfield County Commissions held a series of unlawful meetings over Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 15, 2017
Stephen Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3981
David Reymann, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless, 801.257.7939
In response to a series of recent, unlawful closed door meetings between three southern Utah county commissions and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and others regarding the fate of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has notified each commission that it has violated Utah’s Open and Public Meeting Act and demanded that these meetings cease. In separate letters to the San Juan, Kane, and Garfield County Commission, SUWA stated that “[b]y failing to properly notice and allow public attendance at their meetings with Secretary Zinke … the Commission violated the Act.”
“These commission meetings are textbook violations of the Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act. Because the commissions met with Secretary Zinke and other officials and discussed the future of these national monuments they need to provide public notice and allow the public an opportunity to attend the meeting. That’s the whole point of the Act: for state and local government to conduct public business out in the open,” said David Reymman, an attorney with the Salt Lake City law firm Parr Brown Gee & Loveless.
“The San Juan, Kane and Garfield county commissions repeated secret meetings with Secretary Zinke and other government officials about Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments are completely at odds with Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act. SUWA members in these three counties have an intense interest in protecting our state’s national monuments and would have attended these meetings and vocally advocated for their protection had they known about them. The commissions’ decision to operate under cover of darkness is unlawful and cannot continue,” said Stephen Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
San Juan County Commissioners met with Secretary Zinke in Washington, D.C. on May 2 and June 5, and in Utah on May 8 and 9. Garfield and Kane County Commissioners met with Secretary Zinke in Utah on May 10.
Mr. Reymann represents SUWA with regard to Garfield and Kane Counties’ alleged violation of the Act. SUWA attorneys Mr. Bloch and Ms. Laura Peterson represent the organization with regard to San Juan County’s alleged violation of the Act.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s interim report on the fate of Bears Ears National Monument was released yesterday—and it isn’t good.
As expected, Zinke recommends that President Trump dramatically shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument—though he doesn’t say specifically by how much, or where. Instead, he punted the details of how he’ll recommend Trump chop up the monument to his final report, due in August.
The fact is, the president doesn’t have the authority to reduce the monument. Any attempt by Trump to reduce Bears Ears would immediately wind up in court.
But there’s still time to defend Bears Ears. And now that Zinke has made his intentions clear, your voice is more important than ever.
Despite virtually ignoring previous public comments which favored keeping Bears Ears intact by a 9-1 margin, Secretary Zinke has extended the comment period for Bears Ears. Even if you’ve commented before, now is your chance to tell Zinke what you think of his plan to drastically reduce Bears Ears National Monument.
Remind Secretary Zinke that:
• The President doesn’t have the authority to modify the monument’s boundaries. Only Congress can do that.
• Bears Ears National Monument was a significant achievement for the historic coalition of Tribes that came together to advocate for its protection.
• It is the first national monument to include traditional knowledge as an object worthy of protection in the monument proclamation. And every inch of Bears Ears is necessary to preserve the more than 100,000 archaeological sites therein.
• It is a remarkable wilderness landscape. Beyond the monument’s namesake twin buttes are world-renowned wilderness treasures like White Canyon, Indian Creek, and Comb Ridge. Myriad plant and animal species thrive in its varied habitats. And you’d be hard pressed to find the solitude provided by these areas elsewhere in the lower 48.
Secretary Zinke tried to mask the brutality of his recommendation by calling on Congress to make parts of Bears Ears a National Conservation Area and to give Tribes co-management of whatever crumbs remain of the monument after Trump dices it up. But that’s not just kicking the can down the road—that’s kicking it into the abyss. Congress has had 111 years to protect Bears Ears, and it has completely failed to do so.
Thank you for taking action.