AP

San Juan County formally switches sides in Bears Ears debate

Apr 16, 2019, 3:53 PM

San Juan County Bears ears...

Arch Canyon, viewed from above, is one of the features of Bears Ears National Monument. It features arches, hanging gardens and cliff dwellings. Photo credit: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A southeastern Utah county commission that used to be a vocal opponent of the Bears Ears National Monument created by President Barack Obama is switching sides in the debate now that it’s controlled by Democrats.

The San Juan County Commission filed a notice Tuesday in federal court to withdraw as an objecting intervenor to lawsuits filed by conservation and tribal groups challenging President Donald Trump’s downsizing of the monument in 2017.

The victory in the November election by Willie Grayeyes gave Democrats two of the three commissioner seats. He is a member of the Navajo Nation, which overlaps with the county.

It was the first general election since a federal judge decided racially gerrymandered districts illegally minimized the voices of Navajo voters who make a slim majority of the county’s population.

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San Juan County formally switches sides in Bears Ears debate