THE SPECTRUM- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s assessment of the designation of 27 national monuments since 1996, ordered last month by President Donald Trump, began at Bears Ears in southeastern Utah on Monday.
Later this week, Zinke will visit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, also in Utah, as part of his review of every use of the Antiquities Act “made since January 1, 1996, where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres.”
All they can do in neighboring Nevada is wait to find out if Zinke will make a similar visit.
“It’s been very difficult to communicate with the administration. Very difficult,” said U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, a Democrat. “So, yeah, absolutely when you have a president that is making it a point to sign an executive order asking the administration to revisit some of these national monuments, absolutely we should be concerned.”
Like Utah, Nevada has two national monuments on Zinke’s list: The 700,000-acre Basin and Range, designated in 2015, and Gold Butte, which was named on the same day that Bears Ears received status last December. Kihuen has advocated, along with other members of the state’s federal delegation, for greater protection of Nevada’s lands through the Antiquities Act. Both monuments are in his district.
“I will, and have been, very vocal about our public lands and what we need to do to protect them, but at the same time bring back resources and funding to the state because of it,” Cortez Masto said.
A resolution proclaiming the Nevada State Legislature’s support of the Antiquities Act has passed the State Assembly and was heard May 2 by state’s Senate Committee on Natural Resources. The Senate Committee is expected to revisit Assembly Joint Resolution No. 13 this week.
“We oppose any attempts that the administration has made to undermine the Antiquities Act and review these national monuments,” she said.
While she doesn’t believe Zinke’s review will lead to overturning Gold Butte’s designation, Moan said, “It’s hard to speculate what will happen; there’s no precedent for this type of attack on national monuments.”
Trump’s executive order marked the first time a president has taken steps to review uses of the Antiquities Act since it was passed in 1906. No monument designation has ever been overturned.
The issue elicits polarizing discourse across state lines. While Nevada is fighting Trump’s order, Utah’s federal delegation expressed support — even optimism.
“I think it was a good step. I certainly commend President Trump for revisiting past abuses of the Antiquities Act, it’s never too late to correct a wrong,” Utah Sen. Mike Lee told the DVT. “It’s significant that the local population — Democratic, Republican, Native American and non-native American — is overwhelmingly opposed to this designation (of Bears Ears).”
He added, “Every member of the San Juan County Commission, Democrat and Republican, is opposed to this designation. All six members of Utah’s congressional delegation, all of Utah’s statewide elected officials are opposed to this.”
“This gross abuse of the antiquities act cannot be rewarded. Rescind the monument and exempt these counties from the threat of any future use of the antiquities act. San Juan County should be granted a restraining order from the BLM. The BLM is nothing but a tool of the Old Broads from Colorado. Dangerous, unaccountable tyrants who are completely clueless to the truth; void of political or ethical restraint.” (sic)
Lee said that he thinks Zinke’s review will bring about change in Utah. “I think some designations, including Bears Ears, are likely to be rescinded,” he said.
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