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Interior Secretary's Visit to Bluff Draws Huge Crowd

Over 1,000 people came to the Bluff Community Center in 100+ degree weather on Saturday to share their opinions on the proposed Bears Ears National Monument with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other officials from the departments of Interior and Agriculture. Secretary Jewell and the other officials spent very little time addressing the attendees, instead listening at length to people’s comments about the proposed monument and other options for conserving the area.Leaders from local tribes, counties, and state offices presented their views, and over 80 members of the public were selected by lottery to speak during the six-hour event. Organizers said that they filled at least three boxes full of written comment cards.  Opinions ranged from adamant support for the monument to adamant opposition, with many instead supporting the Public Lands Initiative, legislation which was presented on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah last week. Under the PLI bill, Bear's Ears would become a smaller national conservation area. As the event ended, Jewell did not present a final decision on the monument, but said that the one view shared by all was that the area needs protection.

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