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Lands Lawyer Discusses The Legal Challenges Ahead For Utah's Bears Ears Monument

Judy Fahys
The twin buttes on the horizon (to the left) are protected now as the Bears Ears National Monument, but many critics say they'll enlist Congress and the Trump administration to undo the designation.

Many people agree that the area around the new Bears Ears National Monument is special enough to warrant protection. Native Americans and environmentalists applaud departing President Barack Obama for creating the monument to preserve its landscape, traditions and cultural resources. But many San Juan County residents and Utah political leaders have vowed to reverse it.


University of Utah law professor John Ruple has studied Utah’s public land debate -- including the monument designation -- with an eye on finding common ground. An associate professor at the University of Utah’s Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, he’s thought a lot about what’s to come after the new Republican administration is sworn in. KUER's Judy Fahys recently sat down with Ruple in the KUER studios and began the interview by asking him if Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act was legal.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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