Utah Counties’ Closed-Door Meetings with Zinke and Others Spark Lawsuit

Kane and Garfield County Commissions held a series of unlawful meetings over Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, violating Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act

For Immediate Release
August 15, 2017

Contact:
Laura Peterson, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.236.3762
David Reymann, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless, 801.257.7939

Today, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed a lawsuit in Utah’s Third District Court alleging that Kane and Garfield Counties violated Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act when county commissioners met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and others in a closed-door meeting to discuss the fate of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  In the lawsuit, SUWA asserts that on or around May 10, 2017, Kane and Garfield County commissioners met with Interior Secretary Zinke and other officials in Utah regarding the future of the almost 21-year-old national monument.  The meeting was not publicly noticed and county commissioners did not allow members of the public to attend or participate in the meeting.

“These commission meetings are textbook violations of 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 Reymann, an attorney with the Salt Lake City law firm Parr Brown Gee & Loveless.

“The Utah Open and Public Meetings Act requires county commissioners to deliberate and take actions openly and transparently.  Kane and Garfield county commissions’ secret meetings with Secretary Zinke and other government officials about Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are unlawful and cannot continue.  SUWA members in these counties have an intense interest in protecting Utah’s national monuments and would have attended these meetings and vocally advocated for their protection had they known about them,” said Laura Peterson, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Mr. Reymann is representing SUWA in its suit against Kane and Garfield Counties.

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