On Wednesday, the Utah Legislature’s Commission on the Stewardship of Public Lands adopted a resolution opposing the unilateral use of the Antiquities Act to designate new national monuments. The Obama administration is considering a number of national monument designations in the state this year – including a 1.9-million-acre designation in the Bears Ears area of southeastern Utah. The overarching message of the resolution is that local input and state legislative approval should be required for future designations.
Utah’s natural beauty and pristine landscapes are unparalleled, drawing millions of visitors from around the world. Such wild and unique places should be responsibly protected. However, allowing the president unilaterally to set aside millions of acres with the stroke of a pen is un-American and undermines the democratic process. The resolution does not intend to impede the overall goal of conservation, but rather the method by which it is to be achieved. The commission recognizes that Utahns know and love their public lands better than anyone else and this resolution is intended to declare to the Obama administration that Utahns want to have a voice in decisions regarding monument designations within the state.
The resolution is one of two items Gov. Gary Herbert has specified to be considered when the Legislature meets in a special session that will be convened in conjunction with its regularly scheduled interim meetings on May 18.
Sutherland Institute and the Coalition for Self-Government in the West commend the commission for adopting the resolution.