Bears Ears controversy divides the state

Much disagreement and debate between Native American Tribal leaders in Utah, county land managers, even our state legislators and federal delegation – Congressmen Bishop, Chaffetz – and Governor Herbert and President Obama about a proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.

The 1.9 million acres south of Canyonlands National Park is already designated a wilderness area in Utah but could get designation as a national monument before Obama leaves office if the Protect Bears Ears campaign has its way.

Heal Utah, a state environmental organization, featured on their podcast earlier this week Matt Noyez who works with an organization working with the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition. Part of his interview was featured on Tuesday’s For the People program on KVNU.

“My role in the organization is really helping to create an organization that can help advance this on a number of different fronts like a lot of good non-profits and charitable organizations do,” Noyez explained.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a multi-tribe American Indian group urging protection for a 1.9 million-acre region south of Canyonlands National Park says San Juan County has excluded tribal perspectives in crafting a proposal that could shape public-lands policy for generations to come. Meanwhile, some local Navajos have split from the group, worried a federal designation would impede tribes’ access to the scenic highlands west of Blanding.

“True Utah grass-roots Navajo strongly oppose national monument designation,” according to Rebecca Benally, a first-term San Juan County commissioner and Navajo quoted by the Tribune. And of course the proposal is opposed by Utah officials who see it as another affront to state rights and determination over how to use the land.

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