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Kane, Garfield Counties Accused of Open Meetings Violation During Interior Secretary Visit

Steven Kevel
Creative Commons

Two counties in Utah are accused of violating transparency laws after meeting privately with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during his visit to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in May.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, or SUWA, filed a lawsuit in Utah’s Third District Court against the Kane and Garfield county commissioners last week. It alleges private meetings between commissioners and the Interior Secretary during his visit to the monument on May 10th “flagrantly violated” Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act. In a release, an attorney for SUWA says the meetings should have been properly publicized and allowed an opportunity for the public to attend.

But as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, Garfield County Commission Chair Leland Pollock calls the suit “frivolous,” and Kane County Commission Chair Dirk Clayson denies any wrongdoing under the Act.


Both commissions have passed resolutions recommending size cuts to the 1.9 million acre monument. Results of Zinke’s review on Grand Staircase and 26 other monuments are expected by the end of this week.


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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