Give Zinke local input on Utah’s national monuments

This week Secretary Ryan Zinke toured Bears Ears and Grand Staircase as part of his “review” process under Trump’s recent national monuments executive order with the view of rescinding or drastically reducing over two dozen national monuments across the country. On his tour, Zinke notably followed a highly controlled schedule dominated by monument opposition. Though he did in the end finally meet with the Bears Ears Coalition, the Department of the Interior declined to grant requests for Zinke to meet with Garfield County business owners most affected by any change to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Monument advocates in Kanab were strategically kept behind a chain link fence at Secretary Zinke’s press conference on Wednesday.

The obvious one-sidedness of Zinke’s rhetoric and actions leading up to his tour drew the notice of political cartoonist Pat Bagley, and after his Utah tour drew criticism from political journalist Robert Gehrke, among others, creating a disappointing but unsurprising followup to months of blatantly false statements regarding Utah’s national monuments by anti-monument politicians like Senator Hatch.

Despite seemingly concerted efforts to squash, minimize and reject the voices of monument supporters in Utah, the Department of the Interior has decided to collect public comments on the national monuments under review via Trump’s Executive Order 13792, stating a purported strong belief that local input is a critical component of federal land management. The formal comment period would be the first ever for the Department of the Interior, and is not a requirement for monument designations under the Antiquities Act. Given the unbalanced tactics of Secretary Zinke and the DOI in their review process to date, submitting comments may be the best chance for many monument supporters to get their voice heard by the DOI.


UPDATE: Although comments may be submitted directly to the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and various conservation groups have created their own form to submit comments to the Department of the Interior in order to keep count of submissions. Please use one of the following submission forms to submit comments about Bears Ears BEFORE MAY 26th. Comments on Grand Staircase, all other national monuments and the Antiquities Act may be submitted by July 10th.

  • Submit your comments through Monuments for All or Bears Ears CoalitionBe sure to PERSONALIZE your comments, as individualized notes will be counted accordingly.
  • Share this action. Anyone in the United States can write in their comments to protect Bears Ears, Grand Staircase, and two dozen other national monuments threatened by Executive Order 13792.

SUBMISSION DEADLINES: Comments on Bears Ears must be submitted by May 26th. All other comments on Executive Order 13792 must be submitted by July 10th.

Have another minute to spare? Make a call!

  • Call and leave your comments at the Dept of Interior, Office of the Secretary: (202) 208-7351, (if you reach voicemail, dial “0” to leave a comment)
  • Call and leave your comments at the BLM Public Land Inquiry Line (202) 912-7780. The BLM is a division of the Interior Department. This phone number has been set up to take public lands comments, and calls here will be counted.

Talking Points

Monuments make us great

Not just some of us, but ALL of us. National monuments tell the story of all Americans. They honor our heritage. They create economic opportunities in communities where opportunity may not exist. They give our communities beautiful scenery and landscapes to enjoy and recreate in. They feed our souls. We find meaning and refuge in them. We access hunting and outdoor activity in them. We glean a cultural identity from them. We draw people from across the world to visit and appreciate them. We earn billions of dollars from them.

Monuments make Utah’s economy great

Public lands are a critical piece of Utah’s present and future economy.

  • Tourism across Utah, including tourism in our national monuments, brings in nearly $8 billion annually, with nearly $7 billion coming from domestic and international visitors — that means tourism is the largest export business in Utah
  • Every year, the outdoor recreation industry brings Utah $12 billion in consumer spending, $3.6 billion in wages and salaries, $856 million in state and local tax revenue and provides 122,000 jobs
  • The push by some elected officials in Utah to rescind Bears Ears National Monument designation and dramatically decrease Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument directly led $75 million in annual losses for Utahns due to the exit of Outdoor Retailer and Bicycle Retailer, with more potential losses on the horizon
  • Studies show that regions surrounding national monuments have seen continued growth or improvement in employment, personal income and increased per-capita income
  • Rural counties in the West with more than 30 percent protected public lands saw jobs increase by 345% over areas without protected lands
  • The State of Utah does not have the funding to manage public lands on its own and would either go bankrupt or be forced to sell and lease public lands to private entities if these lands are transferred to the state
  • Nearly half of the nation’s national parks and 4 out of 5 of Utah’s national parks were originally protected as national monuments
  • Recent studies show registered voters in each of seven Mountain West states, including all the Four Corners states, want to keep existing national monument designations by a margin of 80% to 13%
  • 60% of Utahns want to keep existing national monuments in place

Fun facts about Bears Ears National Monument

San Juan County is at the center of the Bears Ears debate, expressing the loudest hostility toward the monument.

  • San Juan County has a population of 15,000. 52% is Navajo.
  • 90% of Navajo support the monument.
  • These Navajo are rural Utahns from San Juan County (ie: locals)
  • The Navajo Nation tribal council voted unanimously to support the monument, dozens of Native nations in the National Congress of American Indians support the monument, as do 6 out of 7 Navajo chapter houses in Utah
  • The Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition here in Utah, which proposed the monument designation, is an unprecedented coming together of tribes around a common vision
  • It was local Utahns who proposed and lead up years of lobbying for the Bears Ears National Monument designation
  • Attacks on the monument designation ignore local input by ignoring that these tribal members are local Utahns who comprise a majority of San Juan County
  • Zinke has stated a strong commitment to respecting and partnering with tribes, yet he has not met with Utah tribes yet
  • Each of Utah’s congressional delegates and our governor has stated that our public lands need protecting
  • Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative also proposed protection for Bears Ears within nearly identical borders
  • Bears Ears is the first National Monument in the country created expressly to honor Tribes and their cultural history, knowledge and ability to manage the monument and to heal our common history
  • Monument opposition is a betrayal of the effort to honor tribes and bring healing

Giving rural Utah a voice in our national monuments means standing with Bears Ears.

Fun facts about Grand Staircase National Monument

Grand Staircase National Monument has made Garfield and Kane Counties great.

  • 70% of Utahns agree that the GSENM has had a positive effect on Utah tourism and on the state’s wildlife and environment
  • Utahns believe GSENM is good for the state by a 2 to 1 margin
  • Studies show that between 1996 and 2008 in the GSE region: population grew by 8%, jobs grew by 38%, real personal income grew by 40%, real per capita income grew by 30%
  • Studies show that between 1996 and 2008 in the GSE region: services jobs grew by over 2,000 jobs to make a 59%, non-services shrank by 146 jobs or 11%, and traditional commodity jobs (agriculture, mining, timber) held steady with pre-1996 trends
  • Animal grazing rights have remained almost unchanged since before the monument’s designation, with 94.6% of the Monument still open for grazing
  • The Escalante Visitor Center saw a 51% increase in visitation from 2015 to 2016 (BLM, 2017)
  • Tourism tax dollars have increased 21% in Kane County and 10% in Garfield county in 2016 alone

Boosting the economy and job creation in Utah means protecting our national monuments and their current boundaries.

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