(KCPW News) Grand County Republican Rep. Carl Abrecht says that the Bears Ears and Grande Staircase Escalante National Monuments are too big, and cover lands that don’t need conserving.
“If you’ve ever walked the ground in either one of those monuments, there’s a whole lot of sage brush, and a whole lot of piñon and juniper that doesn’t need to be protected,” Albrecht says.
To prevent future large scale monument designations in the state, Albrecht wants congress to take action. His House Joint Resolution 1 would exempt Utah from the Antiquities Act that allows presidents to set lands aside for conservation.
“If we want a new monument, [if] we want a new park, let’s work from the ground up instead of the top down,” Albrecht says.
Exempting a state has been done before. Monument designations in both Wyoming and Alaska currently have to be approved by congress.
But monument proponents say Albrecht’s bill is yet another part of the state’s strategy to roll back protections for federal public lands. Utah Sierra Club Director Ashley Soltysiak, calls the resolution a step backward.
“We have amazing public lands and the Antiquities Act provides a tool for the president to be able to designate those as protected areas,” Soltysiak said. “If we take away that tool then we are potentially damning these lands for future generations.”
The resolution has not yet been assigned to a committee.
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