Uproar over appointment of initial Bears Ears NM Advisory Committee
An uproar erupted in the past week after names were released for the initial Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Committee.
Utah Diné Bikéyah, an advocacy group that fought for the original 1.35 million acre national monument, expressed concern that the committee is dominated by local residents who opposed the original monument.
The statement by Utah Diné Bikéyah is printed on page 7.
The committee, according to the federal land agencies, is designed to “work together to provide their unique perspectives and inform the Monument planning efforts and, as appropriate, the management of the Monument.”
The Department of the Interior said that the names of 58 people were submitted to serve on the committee. The committee includes 15 members.
The nominations were reviewed by representatives of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service, and Department of the Interior.
In the end, the appointments were made by the Department of the Interior.
A news release from the Department of the Interior stated, “The individuals appointed to the Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Committee reflect a wide variety of expertise, experiences, and interests regarding public land management and the resources within the Bears Ears National Monument (BENM).
“The appointed advisory committee members will work together to provide their unique perspectives and inform the Monument planning efforts and, as appropriate, the management of the Monument.”
The proclamation creating the monument required that the BLM and Forest Service establish an advisory committee.
The goal, according to the agencies, “is to ensure a fair and balanced representation of interested stakeholders, including State and local governments, tribes, recreational users, local business owners, and private landowners.
In addition to the advisory committee, the proclamation also created the Bears Ears Commission (renamed the Shash Jaa Commission when the boundaries were changed).
The Shash Jaa Commission was initially to include a representative of each of the five tribes involved in the Bear Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. After the boundary change, the San Juan County Commissioner representing District Three (currently Kenneth Maryboy) was also added to the Commission.
However, according to the BLM, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition indicated that they would prefer to work with the agencies through direct government-to-government consultation.
In addition, the tribes that were to be represented on the Shash Jaa Commission also have been invited to participate in the development of the monument management plans as cooperating agencies.
“The BLM is engaging with tribes through Government-to-Government consultation, seeking input from the Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Committee, and has provided the public with a number of opportunities to provide input on the BENM monument management plans,” said a BLM spokesman.
“The BLM will continue to closely engage with the Shash Jaa Commission and interested Tribes in recognition of the importance of Tribal participation in the care and management of the objects within the monument, and to ensure that management decisions affecting the monument reflect and are informed by Tribal expertise and traditional and historical knowledge.”