On April 26, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar instructed Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and his “Balanced Resource Council” to “Be not afraid,” no new monuments would be designated without their involvement. We would almost certainly not have Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks — which first gained administrative protection — as well as the recently established Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, if past administrations had granted such extreme deference to local interests.
Some of the American West’s most treasured landscapes were protected by Republican and Democratic administrations using authority under the Antiquities Act to establish national monuments, which later were often made national parks. By pandering to Utah politicians, Salazar puts this administration at odds with the great conservation legacy that dates back to Teddy Roosevelt.
Utah wilderness activists waiting for Sec. Salazar
Secretary Salazar’s meeting at Utah’s state capitol was billed as the first stop of President Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative” listening tour, supposedly a time when citizens have the opportunity to weigh in on conservation issues. Instead, Salazar directed his comments to Governor Herbert’s “Balanced Resource Council,” which lacks a single representative from a local, regional or national environmental group. In fact, the constituency includes some of Utah’s most radical anti-federal politicians. Herbert himself recently signed legislation allowing Utah to condemn federal land for the state’s use (his unconstitutional action will fail in court). Our thanks go to the many Utah citizens who filled the meeting room wearing “Protect Wild Utah” buttons; Salazar may not have listened to you, but he had to see you!
Salazar’s actions are unprecedented and could be extraordinarily harmful to Utah’s redrock country. Please write to Nancy Sutley, Chair of President Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to ask the Obama administration to re-assert its full authority under the Antiquities Act.