5/19: Public Comment by May 26 on Bears Ears National Monument
An executive order signed last month by President Donald Trump directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review 27 national monuments established or expanded by three other presidents since 1996.
Public Comment Period on Bears Ears ONLY OPEN until May 26, 2017
(Note: comments on the other National Monuments can be submitted up to July 10, 2017.)
SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS AT:
Bears Ears National Monument is located in southeast Utah’s canyon country, in San Juan County. The boundaries of this monument encompass approximately 1.06 million acres managed by the BLM, and nearly 290,000 acres of the Manti-La Sal National Forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The total acreage under federal management is approximately 1.35 million acres.
The idea of a national monument in this area is not a new one. Calls for protection of the Bears Ears area began over 80 years ago. The boundary of the monument is largely based on the Utah Public Lands Initiative (PLI) (H.R. 5780), which was introduced by Reps. Bishop and Chaffetz after extensive consultations with stakeholders, the Interior Department and USDA. Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz of Utah have also proposed to protect this area. Their Utah Public Lands Initiative (H.R. 5780), which Governor Herbert also supported, proposed to conserve roughly the same area as the Bears Ears National Monument by designating two new National Conservation Areas and a Wilderness.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:
Due to a recent Executive Order, Secretary Zinke must prepare a report for review within 45 days on Bears Ears National Monument and the other 26 National Monuments. It’s important to show support for our national monuments and the Antiquities Act that is often used to create them. Submit you comments at: www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001 on Bears Ears by May 26, 2017. Submit your comments on the 26 other National Monuments including Canyons of the Ancients and Grand Staircase-Escalante by July 10, 2017.
FACTS ON BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT:
Description: 1,351,849 acres in San Juan County, Utah, jointly managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service 1.063 million acres managed by the BLM, 290,000 acres managed by the USFS. The Bears Ears National Monument is located in southeast Utah’s canyon country, in San Juan County. The boundaries of the monument encompass approximately 1.06 million acres managed by the Department of the Interior’s BLM, and nearly 290,000 acres within the boundaries of the Manti-La Sal National Forest managed by the USFS. The total acreage under federal management is approximately 1.35 million acres. Over 380,000 acres of the federal lands within the boundaries are currently managed by the BLM as 11 Wilderness Study Areas, natural lands without roads which provide outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation. Significant portions (totaling 29,000 acres) of the BLM-managed part of the monument are also currently managed as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, which are managed for the protection of their outstanding cultural, natural, and scenic values. The BLM-managed part of the monument also contains nine Special Recreation Management Areas, which are managed for their recreation opportunities. The USFS administers the 46,000-acreDark Canyon Wilderness just north of the Bears Ears formation, as well as the Cliff Dwellers Pasture Research Natural Area.
What kind of public process took place before this designation was made? The idea of a national monument in this area is not a new one: calls for protection of the Bears Ears area began over 80 years ago. Tribes with ties to the area began working on a specific proposal six years ago to protect this area under the Antiquities Act. Last year at the invitation of the tribes, senior representatives from Interior and the USFS attended an Inter-Tribal Council meeting in the field at the Bears Ears buttes to engage in government-to-government dialogue. In July of 2016, Secretary Jewell was joined at a public meeting in Bluff, Utah, by Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Roberts, BLM Director Neil Kornze, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and staff from the offices of Governor Herbert, Congressman Chaffetz, Congressman Bishop, Senator Lee, and Senator Hatch. At the meeting, an overflow crowd of over 1,500 citizens came to share their views. The majority of speakers encouraged permanent protection for this iconic landscape, as did the majority of almost 600 written comments. On that trip, the Secretary, Under Secretary, and other senior Administration officials also met with a number of local stakeholders to discuss protection of thearea, including a meeting with the San Juan County Commission that was well-attended by local citizens.
The boundary of the monument is largely based on the Utah Public Lands Initiative (PLI) (H.R. 5780), which was introduced by Reps. Bishop and Chaffetz after extensive consultations with stakeholders and the Interior Department and USDA. Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz of Utah have also proposed to protect this area. Their Utah Public Lands Initiative (H.R. 5780), which Governor Herbert also supported, proposed to conserve roughly the same area as the Bears Ears National Monument by designating two new National Conservation Areas and a Wilderness.
How does the designation compare with the Utah Public Lands Initiative?
The proclamation is similar to and builds upon the PLI in many ways. Bears Ears National Monument is similar in size to the Bears Ears and Indian Creek National Conservation Areas and Mancos Mesa Wilderness in the PLI.
Public Land Initiative
(Bears Ears and Indian Creek NCAs + Mancos Mesa Wilderness) Acres
Bears Ears National Monument Boundary Acres
*The monument designation does not impact or affect non-federal acreage.
Only federal land is subject to the terms of the proclamation
The PLI and the proclamation both require the development of management plans for the designations with robust public involvement, including consultation with state, local, and tribal governments. The PLI’s boundary includes 115,000 acres of land managed by the National Park Service. The monument boundary does not include NPS land, but the BLM and USFS land managers will work with the NPS to ensure consistent management of these important landscapes.
The PLI and the proclamation both establish tribal commissions to provide information and recommendations to allow for the integration of tribal expertise and traditional knowledge into management. The PLI’s commission would be for the Bears Ears NCA only, and would not include the Indian Creek NCA or Mancos Mesa Wilderness.
The PLI and the proclamation both call for advisory committees or councils made up of a variety of interested local stakeholders to assist in the development and implementation of management plans for the NCAs and monument, respectively.
Neither the PLI nor the monument would affect existing oil, gas, and mining operations. Both the PLI and the proclamation would prohibit new mineral leases, mining claims, prospecting or exploration activities, and oil, gas, and geothermal leases.
Source: USDI BLM 2016