Michael Brune addressed a gathering in Moab on June 11 and said the monument would be created through the Antiquities Act.
President Bill Clinton similarly created the 1.4 million-acre Grand Staircase of the Escalante National Monument in 1996. It was decried as an abuse of power since there was no public process or Congressional action.
A series of groups have called for the creation of the national monument, which would take much of the public land surrounding Canyonlands National Park, including significant areas of San Juan County.
A number of environmental groups, in addition to the Outdoor Retailers Association, have called for the new designation.
The proposal would designate 1.4 million acres of land currently administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It would also create an “island” of Forest Service land that would be completely surrounded by the new national monument.
Simply put, the proposed national monument would create new protected status for most of the public lands in San Juan County that are west of Highway 191 and north of Highway 95.
Congressman Rob Bishop, who has launched a new Public Lands Initiative in southeastern Utah that focuses on land use through a collaborative process, announced his disappointment with Brune’s statements.
Bishop said, “A diverse group of stakeholders has come together to work toward finding solutions for ongoing public land policies that have stymied progress for decades. These conversations have been overwhelmingly positive and have the potential to provide new conservation areas, as well as opportunities for new economic development.”
Bishop adds, “This process, which is being driven at the local level, is ongoing and requires continued cooperation amongst all participants.
“Mr. Brune’s statement that a unilateral monument designation is the ‘the best and most politically viable way’ undermines the collaborate effort and to suggest that he is ‘100 percent’ certain a new national monument will be designated in Utah is further harmful to the process.
“Fortunately, the Utah Public Lands Initiative is bigger than just one Washington, D.C. politico and while Mr. Brune may continue to lobby for a unilateral policy out of Washington, the rest of us will continue to work together along with Utah communities to build consensus around new and responsible land policies. Any other approach ignores the diverse interests of the many different land-users.”