Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ending Land Grabs

We must reverse Obama’s land grabs

Next week, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is coming to Utah. This visit is a fulfillment of a promise he made to me during his confirmation hearings in the Senate. During these hearings he assured me that he would visit the areas of our state affected by recent national monument designations.

His biggest priority will be to meet with those who will be most affected by President Obama's last-minute land grab of 1.3 million acres in San Juan County - the Bears Ears National Monument. This designation was made against the protests of the vast majority of the people who call San Juan County home and majority of Utahns do not support this designation.

Recently, President Trump signed an executive order to review recently designated national monuments. In addition to Bears Ears National Monument, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was also made without local support and will likely be reviewed in connection with this visit.

As Secretary Zinke experiences Utah's abundant resources and stunning landscapes, I believe he will agree that Utah is a special place. I also believe that as he gets to know Utahns and the communities we've built that he will leave wondering why previous administrations have gone out of their way to leave Utahns on the sideline when it comes to the daunting task of responsibly managing the millions of acres in our state owned by the federal government.

I believe he will find justification to recommend that President Trump reverse the damage caused by recent national monument designations. I am confident that such an action would pass legal scrutiny. This action will also provide relief to the Utahns and Native Americans who have consistently opposed these national monuments. Most importantly, this action would be an important step towards managing these lands to benefit all Americans instead of a small collection of special interest groups.

Add your name to the growing list of elected officials, Utahns, and those across the country who want to see abusive national monument designations reversed.

Mike Lee, Utah Senator

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