If the Department of the Interior insists on moving forward with new land use plans for any portion of Bears Ears, above, or Grand Staircase-Escalante, they must prioritize the protection of cultural and ecological resources.
Credit: Mason Cummings (TWS).
Until March 19, the public can formally weigh in on the process by which the government is opening Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to mining, reckless off-road vehicle use and other damaging activities.
The Department of the Interior is moving forward with this land planning exercise despite the fact that Native American tribal interests, The Wilderness Society and other groups are actively challenging President Trump's national monument rollbacks in court.
One way to look at this situation: We have the referees and the league office reviewing Trump's last play, but the president is already starting his victory parade.
This planning process is not only hasty and irresponsible, but likely a waste of taxpayer money. President Trump just proposed a nearly 17 percent cut to the Department of the Interior's already tight budget; the agency should not be pouring its limited funds into plans that will likely be rendered moot by a future court decision.
Bears Ears National Monument. Credit: Mason Cummings (TWS).
The law is on our side, and we fully expect to win. If the Department of the Interior does insist on moving forward with new land use plans for any portion of Bears Ears or Grand Staircase-Escalante, they must prioritize the protection of cultural and ecological resources, in line with the intention of the original monument proclamations.