Testimony given by Matthew Anderson on February 28, 2017, in support of HB 385 (State Monuments Act) before the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Standing Committee of the Utah Legislature.
Good morning, representatives. My name is Matt Anderson and I am a policy analyst for the Coalition for Self-Government in the West, a project of Sutherland Institute.
The State Monuments Act once again demonstrates that Utah is leading the way in public lands policy and doing things right. HB 385 reminds us that conservation and local control are in fact two sides of the same coin. No one has a more vested interest in protecting our public lands than the people of Utah who know and love them the most.
There is no doubt that the original intentions of the Antiquities Act and the power it has given presidents to declare national monuments were pure. This was the first law to establish archaeological sites on public lands as important public resources and obligates federal agencies to preserve for present and future generations the historic, cultural and scientific resources found there.
However, the Antiquities Act is missing a key element – local input. HB 385 improves monument designations and management plans by denying unilateral decisions, including local stakeholders, and requiring approval by Utah’s elected representatives. Instead of bypassing the democratic collaboration and our system of checks and balances, the State Monuments Act embraces them – making these ideals an integral part of the process. Utah values should be reflected in all policies impacting our state, and land management should not be the exception.