INSIDE SOURCES

Along with Utah, outdoors group sues over Biden restoring boundaries of Bears Ears

Aug 26, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:57 pm
Bears Ears National Monument sign with the five Tribes' insignias on it....
The news Bears Ears National Monument sign that was unveiled after the signing of the agreement. Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management.

SALT LAKE CITY — An outdoors organization is joining the state of Utah in a lawsuit against the Biden Administration for restoring the original boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument, arguing the action harms members of the community in the area.

Through the 1906 Antiquities Act, President Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument. In 2017, President Trump shrunk the size of the monument by about 85% from about 1.3 million acres to around 228,000. But last year, President Biden restored the original boundaries of the monument — 1.36 million acres.

Now, Utah leaders are suing the Biden Administration over the decision, arguing that both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments are too large to be managed by the federal government.

The Antiquities Act states that areas of the monuments are to be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

Utah leaders sue Biden administration over national monuments

Coalition joins Utah lawsuit over Bears Ears

Ben Burr, the executive director of the Blue Ribbon Coalition of Idaho, joins Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson to talk about his article in National Review. He discusses the state’s lawsuit and why he believes the administration’s actions are hurting Utahns.

“So, you can see you have four different presidents who have looked at this area of Utah, and none of them can agree what is the right size for a national monument,” Burr said. “That is what is at the heart of the Utah legal challenge to the Biden designations, and also to a companion lawsuit that my organization filed yesterday to also challenge these national monument designations.”

“Ben, in the suit that you filed . . . you also have a rancher and a miner and members of the Utah Native American community . . . What is it that they’re saying?” Boyd asked.

“We have ranchers who are seeing it’s almost impossible to manage their grazing allotments once a national monument gets declared,” Burr said. “We have a miner on our complaint, and they’ve suffered already hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages . . . At this point with the Biden declaration, they probably won’t be able to operate their mining claims, which is a property right.”

Burr further said the members of the Native American community are included in his coalition’s complaint over the Biden monument designation.

“Interestingly, the Obama proclamation did allow for Native Americans to continue to traditionally use the land and harvest materials off of the land,” he said. “The Biden proclamation didn’t keep that exclusion in there so they’re actually being directly harmed.”

Public lands and the outdoors

Burr said the Blue Ribbon Coalition focuses on outdoor recreation and access to public lands.

“What we’re finding is areas that once were premiere backcountry, primitive destinations are now turning into more of the hardened, heavy traffic sites that you’d see in a national park,” he said. “So, it really ruins the outdoor recreation experience in these areas.”

Boyd pointed out the need for balance of enjoying the outdoor experience and protecting and preserving irreplaceable national treasures in these types of proclamations.

“This is not about putting an oil rig under Delicate Arch,” he said. “Often it is hurting those Native Americans who have been using that land for generations or those ranchers. Just that common-sense balance of we can protect and preserve all of those things that we should under the Antiquities Act — and we can still have responsible use and have people be able to experience all of that as well. Getting to that conversation I think is the real crucial part of this.

Related:

Indigenous leaders react to restoration of Bears Ears’ boundaries

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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Along with Utah, outdoors group sues over Biden restoring boundaries of Bears Ears