Utah public lands hearing does too little, too late

Jul 27, 2016

Bears Ears, UT

Mason Cummings
Wilderness Society supports swift action by President Obama
With only nine weeks, or potentially even less, left in the Congressional calendar, and without a bill introduced in the Senate, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on Representative Rob Bishop's Utah Public Lands Initiative (PLI), in Blanding, Utah.  
This field hearing comes on the heels of a meeting held in Bluff, UT by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture that provided equal time for both supporters and opponents of a national monument to speak. It was well attended by individuals 2:1 in support of a Bears Ears National Monument. This is consistent with the broad local and statewide support that exists for Bears Ears. In contrast, today’s hearing focused only on opponents of a national monument and did little to advance a viable alternative to a national monument that would provide adequate protection for the Bears Ears landscape.
The following statement is from Paul Spitler, Director of Wilderness Campaigns, The Wilderness Society:
“For a number of years many have called for an open and transparent process to develop solutions for Utah’s public lands challenges. Years of hard work have been put into finding areas of agreement among stakeholders to protect the state’s unsurpassed beauty, recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat. The PLI fails to honor those agreements and today's hearing fails to include the many voices who support permanently protecting the Bears Ears region. After years of missed deadlines, time has run out on the PLI, and it is time for President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish the Bears Ears National Monument.”
Paul Spitler, Director of Wilderness Campaigns, (406) 556-7126,  Paul_Spitler@tws.org
Jennifer Dickson, Senior Communications Manager, (303) 650-9379, Jennifer_dickson@tws.org