Aug 26, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC (August 25, 2022) – Yesterday, the State of Utah and two southern Utah counties filed an unfounded lawsuit against the Biden Administration over the October 2021 restoration of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument. The national monuents were eviscerated by Donald Trump in December 2017 against community input, losing a significant amount of conservation resources as monument boundaries were reduced and monument management plans were gutted.
Following this lawsuit filing, GreenLatinos Public Land Program Director, Olivia Juarez, released the following statement:
“We are insulted by the State of Utah’s blatant disregard for the will of the people to ensure that America’s most significant historically and scientifically significant public lands are preserved for all future generations to learn from and enjoy. For generations, people living near the monuments and across the country have supported and celebrated the conservation of the sacred and precious objects contained within these national monuments’ boundaries.
This deceptive lawsuit only exists to impede the monument management planning processes which federal agencies and tribal nations are already engaged in. Most offensive and erroneous about the lawsuit is the claim that the monument designations harm Native American interests, despite the fact that five Tribes formally co-manage Bears Ears National Monument. The State of Utah continues to actively invisibilize indigenous peoples, indigenous leaders, and sovereign tribal nations.
State dollars should be spent on improving equitable access to public land, not undermining it. This means ensuring good faith stewardship and management of federal public lands in Utah with federal agencies and tribes. Instead, the State of Utah continues to waste public funds, spite the public trust, and recklessly challenge the rightful designation of these national monument areas.
The national monuments have historic and cultural significance to Latino/a/x communities in the region and throughout the continent. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s namesake is a tribute to a scientifically significant area so vast that the Dominguez-Escalante party of 1776 could not travel through the terrain. Materials of archaeological significance that connect ancestral Mesoamericans to Ancestral Puebloans and indigenous peoples of the Colorado Plateau have been recovered throughout Bears Ears National Monument.
GreenLatinos avidly supports the full restoration of both national monuments; we look forward to the development of monument management plans that will address climate disaster and protect monument resources. We call on the State of Utah to drop this lawsuit and stop wasting public money on improvident federal land administration challenges.”