Bennet, Senators to Zinke: Halt Bears Ears & Grand Staircase Management Plans Until Courts Speak

Interior is rushing into management plans based on proclamations that are likely to be overturned in court

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, with a group of 16 senators, today called on U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke to halt the development of management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments until legal challenges related to President Trump’s illegal attempt to shrink these monuments have been resolved. The senators also expressed their deep concern that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not intend to consider the millions of public comments in support of maintaining these national monuments—and has no plan to conduct meaningful tribal consultation—as DOI moves forward with the rushed planning process.

“The president lacks the authority to revoke or reduce previously established national monuments—that authority is reserved to Congress,” the senators wrote. “We strongly disagree with the Department of the Interior’s decision to rush into the planning process for these landscapes based on proclamations which are being challenged in court and are likely to be overturned.”

The senators noted that nearly three million Americans submitted comments to the DOI in response to the president’s monument review process, and a third-party analysis found that 99 percent of those comments supported leaving monument protections in place.

“The public has made clear they believe that national monuments should remain protected,” the senators added. “It has come to our attention that the BLM does not plan to consider the input or findings from these millions of comments during this rushed planning process they have undertaken. Further, we have heard that BLM staff will not be considering comments during this process regarding objects, resources and values within the over one million acres that were eliminated from Bears Ears National Monument – despite the likelihood that ongoing legal cases will impact future management of these lands. Finally, we are unaware of any plan to conduct meaningful tribal consultation with any of the tribes who have cultural ties to this region, many of which still live in the area today.”

“The failure to take into account a historic outpouring of support from the public as well as the failure to consider proper management to protect resources that have been eliminated via legally dubious actions is further evidence that this management process should be postponed,” the senators wrote.

A copy of the letter is available HERE.