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Bears Ears Monument Review Has Not Included Tribal Input, Bears Ears Commission Member Says

Austin Cope

Days are counting down for Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to finish his reviewof national monuments created over the past 20 years. At the top of his list is the Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah. He’s planning a trip to southeastern Utah next week, but the details are still not public.

Earlier this week, Zinke met with elected officials of San Juan County and the State of Utah in Washington DC. We’ll hear San Juan County Commission Chair Bruce Adams’ takeaways from his meeting with Zinke on Monday of next week.

But the Interior Secretary has not yet met with the Bears Ears Commission, a group of delegates from the Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Hopi, and Zuni tribes. According to the monument proclamation, the secretary "shall meaningfully engage the Commission… in the development of the management plan and to inform subsequent management of the monument.”

The Bears Ears commission went to Washington DC earlier this week to hold a press conference, but it did not meet directly with the Secretary. KSJD's Austin Cope recorded an interview with Davis Filfred, one of the Commission members representing the Navajo Nation. He asked Filfred to reflect on why Zinke hadn’t yet met with the delegates.


After they recorded the interview, Filfred said he had received word the commission would meet with the Secretary in Salt Lake City on Sunday. However, he didn’t have any other details. KSJD has also reached out to other members of the Bears Ears commission, but has not heard back. A rally in support of the monument is planned in Salt Lake City on Sunday.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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