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As Public Weighs In On Monuments, Speculation Continues About Their Future

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More than 120,000 comments have poured in from the public about national monuments in response to the Trump administration’s review of more than two dozen of the specially designated areas.

The comment period for the new Bears Ears National Monument in Southeast Utah ended Friday, but comments are being taken through July 10th on the other monuments on the list to be scrutinized for possible rescinding or downsizing. That list includes Canyons of the Ancients west of Cortez. The vast majority of comments reportedly favor retaining all the monument designations. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, more than 52,000 people wrote in specifically about Bears Ears, and a large majority favored keeping the protective designation for all 1.35 million acres proclaimed by President Obama last December. The Center for Western Priorities, an environmental nonprofit, analyzed a representative sample of online comments and found 96 percent overall said monument boundaries should stay the same. However, an energy-focused media outlet called E&E News reports that Utah’s San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has already told Utah officials he will recommend rescinding Bears Ears National Monument. A key question is whether President Trump will try to rescind the designation on his own, an action no president has ever tried and which may not even hold up in court.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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