By Sutherland Staff
Published on November 7, 2017

What Happened?

Big news broke last week – President Trump will be visiting Utah in early December to reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument. Statements made by members of Utah’s congressional delegation confirm that the president intends to approve the recommendations made by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The monument could see a reduction of more than 80 percent. This is welcome news to locals who know and love these public lands the most. And while we should celebrate this win with San Juan County, the Antiquities Act still weighs heavy on the West. Unaltered, the Antiquities Act keeps our public lands in a state of uncertainty as we await the unilateral decisions of incoming presidents. This process relegates our national monuments to little more than political footballs, punted back and forth with each change of presidential administration. Our public lands and our rural communities deserve better.

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What’s Next?

The only way to prevent such an uncertain future for our public lands is to reform the Antiquities Act, incorporating local voices and the democratic process in how national monuments are designated. Legislation is currently moving through the U.S. House of Representatives and is likely to be introduced shortly in the Senate. Trump’s executive order is a great first step, but without congressional action it is fleeting.

What Can You Do?

  1. Stay informed by following Sutherland Institute and the Coalition for Self-Government in the West on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Contact your state and congressional representatives by writing letters and calling in.
  3. Write op-eds and letters to the editor in your local newspaper – expressing your support to amend the Antiquities Act to include local voices in the process.
  4. Talk to your neighbors and friends about the importance of reforming the Antiquities Act.
  5. Support the efforts of Sutherland Institute to incorporate locally driven solutions into public land management by donating here.


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