The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved development plans for public lands cut from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments even though lawsuits to restore the original boundaries of the two Utah national monuments have not yet been heard in court.
These plans are just as dreadful as you might expect, emphasizing drilling, mining, grazing, “vegetation removal” (chaining) in pinyon-juniper forests, and opening new routes to off-road vehicles.
New names make the plans confusing. For instance, a new “Paria River District” has been formed under the BLM Kanab Field Office to manage 86,000 acres stripped from Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument as well as what remains in the monument.
A small bright spot is that BLM pulled back from a threat to restore cattle grazing along 40 miles of the Escalante River. As for the Bears Ears plan, Shaun Chapoose, a Ute co-chair of the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition, called it “just another in a series of unlawful actions reducing and revoking the Bears Ears National Monument.“
Regarding both plans, Stephen Bloch, Legal Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, commented, “Our members and the public should rest assured that these management plans will not be the final chapter for the management of these remarkable public lands. We are confident that the lawsuits challenging President Trump’s unlawful attack of the monuments will succeed and these plans, which are the fruit of Trump’s poisonous actions, will be undone.”
This is an excerpt from our March EnviroNews column. View the full article here.