A canyon cairn sculpture overlooking Indian Creek and the Six Shooter Peaks.  Mary Cokenour photo
A canyon cairn sculpture overlooking Indian Creek and the Six Shooter Peaks. Mary Cokenour photo
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Voting districts approved
Jan 16, 2018 | 363 views | 0 0 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New voting districts were formally approved for the San Juan County Commission and School Board positions in a January 11, 2018 ruling by Federal Judge Robert Shelby. The ruling formalizes Shelby’s previous rulings and sets an election for all three commission seats and all five school board seats in November, 2018. San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson is moving ahead to set up the election schedule using the new district boundaries, even as the San Juan County Commission has formally appealed the ruling to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In his January 11 statements, Judge Shelby denied a county motion to alter or amend his judgment on previous decisions. He ordered the implementation of his rulings and declared the case closed. On the same day, the county filed a notice to appeal rulings by Judge Shelby on at least five separate motions. San Juan County has suggested in separate statements that the appeals court, based in Denver, may give the county a more favorable ruling. Judge Shelby presided over the trial in which Commissioner Phil Lyman was convicted of organizing the Recapture Canyon protest in 2012. Lyman appealed that conviction before the Court of Appeals, arguing that Shelby should have recused himself from the initial trial. The Navajo Nation filed a series of lawsuits against San Juan County after the 2010 Census, arguing the voting districts and policies discriminate against Native Americans. The population in the county is roughly split between Native Americans and non-Native Americans, with Native Americans making up 50.4 percent of the total population in the 2010 Census. Despite the 50/50 split, there has never been more than one Native American on the three-member county commission or more than two Native Americans on the five-member school board. The new boundaries create a Native American majority in two of three commission districts and three of five school districts. For instance, Native Americans will make up 66 percent of the population in one Commission district (currently represented by Lyman) and 80 percent in a second district (currently represented by Rebecca Benally). Similarly, the new school district boundaries will have a Native American majority in three districts of 65, 85, and 88 percent, (currently represented by Steve Black, Elsie Dee and Nelson Yellowman, respectively). A third lawsuit filed by the Navajo Nation, arguing that the vote-by-mail system used by the county discriminated against Native American voters, is set to go to trial before Judge Shelby this winter. It will be a busy election season in San Juan County, with all eight races on the ballot, in addition to other county positions. A new San Juan County Assessor will be selected to fill the unexpired term of Shelby Seely. Seely was recently removed from office because he had not secured the necessary licensure for the position. Other state and federal offices on the ballot will include races for state and federal House of Representatives, and US Senate.
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Congressional bill would formalize Bears Ears changes
Jan 16, 2018 | 322 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A bill to formalize the creation of Bears Ears National Monument has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman John Curtis. Curtis states that House Resolution 4532 would create the first tribally-managed national monument. The bill would create a clear management role for tribes in the monument, rather than the advisory role currently set for the tribal groups involved with the monument. President Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act to create the national monument in December, 2016, while President Donald Trump used the same act to shrink the monument in December, 2017. The initial monument was 1.35-million acres. It was shrunk by 85 percent by Trump. The current bill, if passed and signed into law, would use the legislative process to formalize the national monument. The bill was formally introduced by Rep. Curtis on January 9. Four people testified on the bill, including Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Bears Ears Commissioner Shaun Chapoose, Matt Anderson of the Sutherland Institute, and San Juan County resident Suzette Morris, of White Mesa. Shaun Chapoose, who is a member of the Bears Ears Commission and was previously involved with the Inter-Tribal Coalition, strongly opposes the bill. Chapoose said the bill “pours salt on the wound” that was created when Trump shrunk the monument. Chapoose stated that the tribes had not been consulted by the Trump Administration and added, “Speaking with an individual tribal member is not government-to-government consultation.” Chapoose also added that the bill “elevates state and county representatives above federally recognized tribes.” Suzette Morris, a member of Ute Mountain Tribe and Vice President of the Stewards of San Juan County, said, “No one cares for the land more than we do… The people who live closest to the land love the land the most.” Morris adds that the bill, “Finally empowers the voices who have been silenced in this debate, the voices of the local tribes who actually live in San Juan County. “By creating the first ever tribal management council, you are empowering local Native American people with real authority to manage the land of their ancestors.” Morris said the initial designation by Obama, “didn’t mention tribal management, it only created an advisory committee that had no real power over the land.” Morris filled in at the last minute for San Juan Commissioner Rebecca Benally, who was unable to attend. A statement from Commissioner Benally said, “By supporting H.R. 4532, you are listening to a group that has been silenced for too long and finally allowing us a seat at that table. “We all come from different backgrounds, but we want the same results. We want land that is well managed, protected and accessible to all people.” After the hearing, San Juan County issued a statement in support of the bill. The statement said, “Today, members of our community testified in favor of H.R. 4532. This legislation would create the first tribally-managed national monument in San Juan County.” The statement adds that the bill is “a measure that celebrates diversity and promotes new ideas and solutions.”  The San Juan County statement thanked Congressman Curtis and the Utah delegation “for putting forward this thoughtful legislation.” The statement closed by stating, “We look forward to this new step of local collaboration.” In separate statements, San Juan County Comissioner Phil Lyman has expressed concern about the new bill, stating he opposes several provisions in the current bill. An in-depth analysis of the new bill will be provided by the San Juan Record at a later time.
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BLM seeks public input in planning Bears Ears NM
Jan 16, 2018 | 331 views | 0 0 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On December 4, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Proclamation 9681 modifying the boundary of the Bears Ears National Monument to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of important objects of historic and scientific interest. This action is part of a larger effort by President Trump and the Department of the Interior to ensure that the broad powers granted to the President under the Antiquities Act are not used as a tool to unnecessarily restrict access to public land on a large scale. The Bureau of Land Management Utah State Office is seeking public input in advance of preparing land use plans for Bears Ears National Monument as modified by Proclamation 9681. These planning efforts are an opportunity to enhance their relationships with the State of Utah and local communities.  The BLM will develop these plans to protect objects of historic and scientific interest, consistent with Presidential Proclamation 9681. The publication of the Notice of Intent to Prepare Monument Management Plans for the Bears Ears National Monument Indian Creek and Shash Jáa Units and associated Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register initiated the public scoping period for the land use planning process.  The BLM will accept comments for at least 60 days, or for 15 days after the last scheduled public scoping meeting, whichever is later.   The new land use plans will provide clarity to the public on how they can enjoy Bears Ears National Monument. With State, local, and public participation, the agency will develop alternatives for the land use plans.  The public is encouraged to identify issues, management questions, or concerns that should be addressed in this process.  Future public scoping meetings will also provide an opportunity to speak with resource specialists and deliver written comments in person.   The date(s) and location(s) of any scoping meetings will be announced at least 15 days in advance through local media, newspapers and the BLM website at: https://www.blm.gov/utah.  The agency will provide additional opportunities for public participation upon publication of the Draft EIS. Comments may be submitted by using any of the following methods by email at blm_ut_monticello_monuments@blm.gov, by ePlanning at  https://goo.gl/uLrEae, or by mail at  P.O. Box 7, Monticello, UT 84535. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. The BLM will not consider anonymous comments. All submissions from organizations and businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be available for public inspection in their entirety. For further information concerning the land use planning process, contact Lance Porter, District Manager at 435-259-2100. The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in twelve western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Activities authorized on these lands generated $75 billion in sales of goods and services in the American economy in 2016. These activities supported more than 372,000 jobs.
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Taking the oath of office on January 9 are City Council members Bayley Hedglin (left) and George Rice (right), along with Mayor Tim Young (center).  Courtesy photo
Taking the oath of office on January 9 are City Council members Bayley Hedglin (left) and George Rice (right), along with Mayor Tim Young (center). Courtesy photo
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