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BLM Restores Access With a Blueprint for Managing National Monuments

BLM Restores Access With a Blueprint for Managing National Monuments
February 06
22:30 2020

News Release

February 6, 2020

BLM restores access with a blueprint for managing national monuments and public lands in Utah

The approved management plans provide certainty to local communities, protect monument objects and values, and incorporate input from over seven months of public engagement for each plan

 

SALT LAKE CITY – To cohesively manage the national monuments and public lands in Utah, and to restore public trust, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took the following actions today:

  • Signed Records of Decision (ROD) and released the Approved Monument Management Plans for Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) (in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS)), consistent with President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation 9681;
  • Issued a ROD and Approved Resource Management Plans (RMPs) for the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons units of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM); and
  • Issued a ROD and Approved RMP for the Kanab Escalante Planning Area (KEPA), which encompasses the Federal lands excluded from the GSENM by President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation 9682.

On Dec. 4, 2017, President Trump signed two Presidential proclamations that right-sized the boundaries, while providing for the protection of objects within the BENM and GSENM, consistent with the original intent of the Antiquities Act of 1906.

“The approved plans keep the commitment of this Administration to the families and communities of Utah that know and love this land the best and will care for these resources for many generations to come,” said Acting Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond. “These cooperatively developed and locally driven plans restore a prosperous future to communities too often dismissed and punished by unilateral decisions of those that would not listen to the voices of Utahns.”

Through the Presidential proclamations and these management plans, all public lands have remained under Federal management. Today’s decisions fulfill the directive for BLM to develop new land use plans for the monuments and KEPA and restore long overdue certainty to the public and provide responsible governance of these Federal lands. As a result of the Proclamations and changed conditions, the BLM developed new land use plans for the monuments and KEPA following an extensive engagement process.

“I appreciate the President’s and Secretary Bernhardt’s collaborative approach to both the Grand Staircase-Escalante and the Bears Ears national monuments,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert. “As the Antiquities Act itself states, and as I have reiterated for years, monuments should be as small as possible to protect artifacts and cultural resources. And they should not be created over the objections of local communities. I’m happy to see the Administration develop management plans that protect areas with sensitive artifacts and yet still provide a way to use these lands for recreation, grazing, and management practices that will keep the lands healthy. The outcomes are always better when the federal government works with local communities rather than presumes to know what is best for them.”

“These management plans are the result of meaningful collaboration that was clearly lacking in the politically-motivated monument designations by past administrations,” said Utah Congressman Robert Bishop. “Well-funded special interest groups that aren’t from our state will spread outrageous misinformation, but the fact remains that this administration has continued to take actions that reflect the will of Utahns who call these places home. Unfortunately, this work can all be undone by bureaucrats and the political whims of future presidents, unless Congress tweaks the Antiquities Act. Despite this reality, thanks and praise is warranted for this new and better approach at the Department under President Trump.”

“When President Trump reduced the size of both Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, he did it with the full support of Utah’s federal delegation and the elected officials who represent those areas,” said Utah Congressman Chris Stewart. “By contrast, the Obama and Clinton Administrations snubbed and ignored Utah’s local, state, and federal elected officials who objected to the creation of both monuments. Thanks to this administration’s attitude towards local input, these new plans will benefit Utahns. I proudly stand with my friends, the county commissioners in Kane and Garfield Counties, in thanking President Trump, Department of the Interior, and BLM staff for listening and responding.”

“The approved management plans for these two incredible national monuments are the result of extensive and deliberate collaboration between cooperating agency partners, local communities, stakeholders, the Utah Resource Advisory Council, Tribes, and the American public,” said BLM Utah Acting State Director Anita Bilbao. “These plans will conserve our treasured lands, support the needs of local communities, and address increases in visitation to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments and surrounding lands.”

Bears Ears National Monument

The BENM encompasses two monument units, Shash Jáa and Indian Creek. Shash Jáa is approximately 129,980 acres and is jointly administered by the BLM and USFS. Indian Creek is approximately 71,896 acres, solely administered by the BLM. Collectively, they comprise approximately 201,876 acres in size. The Approved Monument Management Plans (MMPs) provide a framework for careful management of the area’s unique resources and are designed to protect the BENM’s objects and values while allowing for continued use by American Indians and providing for recreation opportunities, and livestock grazing. The BLM and USFS worked collaboratively to engage the surrounding communities, Tribes and stakeholders throughout the process of developing these plans, and the management plans reflect the shared commitment to respect and protect the objects, values and resources.

“The Forest Service values our role in managing this very special place,” said Manti-La Sal National Forest Supervisor Ryan Nehl. “We appreciate everyone who took the time to provide meaningful comments throughout this process, and we look forward to our continued work with communities, stakeholders, Tribes, and the public.”

The BLM and USFS held six public meetings and provided over seven months of public involvement and comment opportunities throughout the planning process. The BLM also invited over 30 American Indian Tribes to participate as cooperating agencies, and regularly reached out to Tribes with ancestral ties to the BENM region throughout the Monument planning process in order to incorporate tribal expertise and traditional and historical knowledge into the plans.

In June, the BLM and USFS met with the BENM Advisory Committee and incorporated its recommendations into the Approved MMPs.

The agencies are committed to continued dialogue with Tribes and the BENM Advisory Committee to inform on-the-ground management of the BENM and the protection of the objects for which it was designated. There will also be future opportunities for the public to provide input on implementation-level plans as well as National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultation on specific projects.

The BLM’s and USFS’s RODs and Approved MMPs, as well as all supporting documents, maps, and information are available online at https://go.usa.gov/xVjXQ.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument & Kanab-Escalante Planning Area

The GSENM includes three units: the 209,993-acre Grand Staircase Unit, the 551,034-acre Kaiparowits Unit, and 242,836-acre Escalante Canyons Unit. The KEPA is 861,974 acres and will be managed for multiple use, while laws, regulations and policies will continue to protect cultural, historical, natural and paleontological resources. In the 20 years since the original monument management plan was adopted, visitor needs and the conditions on the ground have changed, which necessitated an update to the management framework for the area in addition to the requirements of Proclamation 9862.

Garfield County Commissioners Leland Pollock, David Tebbs and Jerry Taylor expressed their appreciation for the Administration’s support of local communities: “We are grateful for the Administration’s efforts to create a Monument Management Plan that works for the American public and impacted local governments. Although no plan is perfect, the revised Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Plan goes a long way to correct problems that have existed for more than 20 years. This Plan increases access for the visiting public, does a better job at managing, preserving and interpreting sensitive resources, and allows federal agencies more flexibility in restoring the productive health of our federal lands. We thank the Department of the Interior, local BLM staff and President Trump for moving this plan forward. We are no longer forgotten.”

The GSENM Approved RMPs replace the 2000 GSENM Monument Management Plan (MMP) for public lands within the GSENM boundary. The adoption of the GSENM Approved RMPs provides a framework for the management and protection of the GSENM’s resources, including the proper care and management of monument objects and values.

“Kane County is grateful to President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt for listening to us,” shared Kane County Commissioner Andy Gant. “This new Monument and the surrounding BLM areas are all about providing protection to the land and preserving access to the land by the people who use it and rely on it to provide our livelihoods. This Record of Decision accomplishes those goals. The new plan is not perfect but it moves us honestly in the direction we want to go as we look into the future of Kane County.”

The KEPA RMP replaces the 2000 GSENM MMP for those public lands that were excluded from the monument boundary by Proclamation 9682. The KEPA Approved RMP provides multiple-use management direction necessary to ensure that the KEPA lands and associated resources are managed to best meet the present and future needs of the American people in accordance with the BLM’s multiple-use mandate, and consistent with existing laws, regulations, and policies that provide additional protection for cultural, historical, natural, and paleontological resources within KEPA.

Electronic copies of the RODs and Approved RMPs are available on the BLM’s ePlanning website at https://go.usa.gov/ xVCGJ.

Impact of the Previous Administrations’ Monument Designations
The plans approved today implement the President’s direction in Proclamations 9681 and 9682, signed on December 4, 2017, which modified the boundaries of the BENM and GSENM in accordance with the original intent of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Act provides the President with authority to designate lands as national monuments in order to protect objects of historic and scientific interest in the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects.”

The previous 1.35 million-acre BENM was designated, over the objections of state and local officials, during a lame duck presidency on December 28, 2016, negatively impacting 109,000 acres of Utah School and Institutional Trust Administration land as well as wildfire management activities, grazing, and responsible energy production.

Similarly, the 1.72 million-acre GSENM was designated in 1996 through an abuse of the purpose and spirit of the Antiquities Act, without due consideration to state and local elected officials, or the community, and commenced decades of mistrust with the Federal government. School Trust lands in Utah lost more than $17 billion. Grazing rights, wildfire management activities, motorized vehicle use, water rights, infrastructure projects, energy sectors, and countless families were negatively impacted by President Bill Clinton’s 1996 Presidential proclamation.

Across the State of Utah, citizens and their representatives have felt the positive impacts of President Trump’s modification and correction of the national monuments.

“The downsizing of the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to a manageable acreage was the most amazing, selfless act of a sitting President of the United States,” Beaver County Commissioner Tammy Pearson. “Utah thanks you President Trump. Both management plans have been thoughtful and painstakingly put together to coordinate proper management, to protect local culture and heritage, while also maintaining the integrity and sanctity of the antiquities intended to be protected.”

Today’s actions restore certainty for the use of these public lands while protecting the objects and values identified in the BENM and GSENM proclamations.

For photos of the national monuments and KEPA:

Photos of the can be found on the BLM’s Flickr website:

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The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.  

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