Alex Logemann, director of state and local policy
Image: John Fowler
On June 12, 2017, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released an interim report regarding the Department of the Interior’s review of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument. In the report, Secretary Zinke recommends that:
- The boundaries of Bears Ears be revised using “appropriate authority,” including action by the President.
- The President request that Congress provide authority to enable tribal co-management of cultural areas within Bears Ears.
- Congress re-designate certain areas within Bears Ears as either national recreation areas or national conservation areas.
- Congress clarify how Wilderness or Wilderness Study Areas within Bears Ears should be managed.
This is not a final recommendation on Bears Ears. The interim report states that the Department will provide “more specific recommendations” with the full review of all national monuments that were subject to re-examination.
We are disappointed that the Department is proposing that existing protections for Bears Ears be eroded through a boundary adjustment and the reclassification of some monument lands. Our national monuments are prized landscapes that merit protection for their cultural and conservation values. Many monuments also provide exceptional recreational opportunities—including bike riding. This recommendation is out of step with the voice of Americans, who overwhelmingly supported Bears Ears during the public comment process. However, bike riders made their voices heard, and the Department took notice. The interim report specifically calls out the recreational opportunities that Bears Ears provides for mountain biking.
We will continue to engage with this administration as it reviews additional national monuments and considers how to proceed with Bears Ears. We will also work with our elected officials in Congress to ensure that any legislative action appropriately protects these lands. We encourage everyone to express their support for additional national monuments that are subject to the Interior Department’s review through the public comment process here.