Environews, Minis

Environews: Hasty management plans attack Utah’s downsized monuments

By Amy Brunvand

Public comments are needed on two draft management plans for the reduced boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The rushed planning is part of a Trump administration strategy to formalize smaller boundaries in order to prevent pending lawsuits from restoring the original boundaries. (As a second line of attack, Utah congressman Chris Stewart (R-Ut-2) has introduced a bill to replace Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with a small National Park.)

Concerned citizens should be aware that the Trump administration is not only re-writing plans to manage the re-named units of smaller national monuments; they are also making plans to lease, develop and sell public lands that the 2017 Trump proclamation eliminated from National Monument status: “Bears Ears National Monument Draft Resource Plan (reduced size: Shash Jaa and Indian Creek Units). Comments due by November 15, 2018.

No management plan was ever developed for the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, so a “No Action” alternative reverts to a 2008 Monticello Field Office plan and 1986 Manti-La Sal National Forest plan. Trump Administration-preferred Alternative D would emphasize “multiple use” management, which in Republican vernacular means all uses allowed in all places. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Draft Resource Management Plan (reduced size, Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits and Escalante Canyons units). Comments due by November 15, 2018.

Alternative A, the “no Action” alternative” would continue the existing management plan within the  original 1996 boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Trump administration-preferred Alternative D conserves the least land area and is least restrictive to energy and mineral development.  It promotes timber harvest and grazing, and adds new road construction. 700,000 acres that were protected by the National Monument would be made available for coal mining, oil and gas drilling and other development.

This article was originally published on September 12, 2018.