Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Utah Monument Supporters Say Their Voice Excluded On Monuments Measures

Utah House lawmakers passed a pair of resolutions Tuesday aimed at dismantling two national monuments in Utah.

One would ask President Donald Trump to rescind the new Bears Ears National Monument. The other would ask Congress to cut the size of the 20-year-old Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Utah lawmakers were debating the resolutions on the House floor, while monument supporters rallied outside to keep the monuments intact.

One supporter on hand was Mark Austin, a builder and board member of the Escalante-Boulder Chamber of Commerce. He came to the state Capitol Tuesday to tell how the nearby monument has made the local economy boom.

“Nowhere are our opinions being represented – not by our city, county or state representatives,” he says. “Zero.”

Austin says he’s trying to dispel a false narrative that elected leaders are pushing in Washington that Utahns universally oppose the monuments.

Cynthia Wilson is a Navajo from Monument Valley and member of Utah Diné Bikéyah, the group behind the Bears Ears National Monument proposal. She agrees that elected leaders haven’t been listening to local supporters. So, her group is hoping to meet with U.S. Interior Secretary nominee, Ryan Zinke, during his rumored visit to Utah next week.

“He needs to know that the people living south of San Juan County want to be heard,” she says, “We want this monument to succeed, and we want to keep it protected for future generations.”

The Utah Senate takes up the non-binding resolutions next. A Senate a committee is expected hear the resolutions as soon as Thursday and take public comment. Lawmakers hope to fast-track both measures to passage on Friday.

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.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.