Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.
Two Federal Register notices will be published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Tuesday, January 16th, showing the agency’s intent to rush forward a planning process for monuments in Utah eviscerated by the Trump administration, despite lawsuits challenging the administration’s actions. In early December, President Trump unlawfully reduced boundaries for the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments through executive action, which is already being challenged in court. Now the agency is launching a process that ignores concerns of the public and is intended to ensure access to develop the resources in these areas as quickly as possible.
The following statement is from Phil Hanceford, Conservation Director, The Wilderness Society:
“The BLM’s rush to act is irresponsible. No planning efforts should move forward until the legitimacy of these new proclamations and dismantling of protected areas are fully settled by the courts.
We fully expect these new proclamations to be overturned by the courts, making these planning efforts a colossal waste of time and money for an already strapped agency. The BLM should instead focus on using its money and staff resources protecting these monuments and the natural and cultural resources within them for current and future American generations.
Rushing forward efforts to open up land monuments lands to drilling, mining, or irresponsible uses goes against the will of millions of Americans who spoke up and urged Interior Secretary Zinke and President Trump to keep protections in place for our national treasures. Instead Zinke and his staff have turned their back on the rule of law and the wishes of a majority of Americans.”
On December 4, 2017, the President of the United States signed a proclamation reducing the boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. The proclamation created three new units within the bounds of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and two new units within the bounds of the Bears Ears National Monument.
The BLM has now announced it is moving forward with creating land use plans for these two monuments as well as lands excised from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the Kanab Field Office of the BLM at the same time that the new proclamations are being challenged in court in a rush to open lands to more drilling, mining and other irresponsible uses of these important and sensitive lands.
The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org
Phil Hanceford, Conservation Director, (303) 225-4636, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Dickson, Senior Communications Manager, Southwest Region, (303) 650-9379, email@example.com