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Interior Secretary Announces Recommendations for Bears Ears National Monument

Austin Cope
Zinke said he expected the area of Bears Ears near the Dugout Ranch (pictured) north of Newspaper Rock and south of Canyonlands National Park, to remain part of the monument

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending the newly-created Bears Ears National Monument be downsized by an unspecified amount, possibly through unilateral action by the President.

On Monday, Zinke issued an interim report on the 1.3-million-acre monument in Southeast Utah, in compliance with an executive order by President Trump. During a media conference call, Zinke emphasized that his recommendations incorporated feedback from his four-day listening tour in Utah in May as well as stakeholder input and public comments.

“It's important that the recommendations were not made in a bubble in Washington, DC,” Zinke said.

Zinke urged that the monument’s boundaries be revised to focus on protecting areas with the most cultural and historic resources – primarily around the Bears Ears geological formation and north of Newspaper Rock near Canyonlands National Park.

“There is a lot more drop-dead gorgeous land than there is historic landmarks, historic, prehistoric structures and other objects,” he said.

He also called for Congress to pass legislation granting Native American tribes co-management authority over the revised, smaller monument. He also recommended lawmakers consider alternative designations for the land taken out of the monument. Zinke’s next step will be to issue a final recommendation to the President, along with the results from his review of 2 dozen other national monuments.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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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