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Herbert: No Surprise National Monument for Utah

Ray Bloxham, SUWA
The Beef Basin area of San Juan County is part of the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he has a promise from the Obama administration – there won’t be a new national monument appearing suddenly on the map of Southern Utah.

Governor Herbert was in Washington DC last week and spoke with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.  He told reporters at his monthly news conference on KUED that Jewell promised there would be no designation of a Greater Canyonlands National Monument without some advance notice.

“We don’t want a national monument to surprise us with some designation," Herbert said. "They’ve promised me that’s not going to happen.  We’re making headway on our public land initiative sponsored by Representative Rob Bishop and Congressman Jason Chaffetz. I think it’s a more comprehensive approach to which everybody seems to agree.”

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is one of the groups who’ve been working to protect the Greater Canyonlands area, but they’ve also been part of the meetings on Congressman Bishop’s public lands proposal for eastern Utah.  Jen Ujifsa, SUWA’s legislative director, says that could achieve the same goal.

“Greater Canyonlands is a part of that region," Ujifusa tells KUER," and so the hope is that, if we can achieve some good legislation with the delegation, and we’re working hard on trying to do so, that Greater Canyonlands could achieve protection.  But if that legislative effort fails, the Antiquities Act is another way forward.”

The Antiquities Act gives the president authority to designate new national monuments without Congressional action.  President Clinton used the law to create the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument in 1996.

The Greater Canyonlands proposal includes 1-point-4 million acres of public land surrounding Canyonlands National Park.

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