Utah Counties’ Closed Door Meetings with Zinke and Others Violates Utah Open and Public Meetings Act

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

Contact:
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.

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