Murkowski: Monument Decisions Are Responsive to Local Input

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released the following statement after President Trump signed presidential proclamations reducing the size of two national monuments, Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante, both located in Utah. The administration also released Secretary Zinke’s final national monuments review and recommendations to the president.

“The Antiquities Act has been misused in recent administrations to make sweeping withdrawals that ignore local concerns,” Murkowski said. “Lost in those decisions have been the voices of the people who actually live in the areas affected by these designations. We must work to ensure that the local people who are impacted the most by these decisions are heard, respected, and included in the decision-making process. The proclamations issued by the president this week reduce two of Utah’s monuments to a more appropriate size while continuing to protect areas of historical and scientific significance.”

The president has authority to declare national monuments under the Antiquities Act, but is explicitly required to designate “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” The Trump administration concluded that requirement was not met by the 1.35 million-acre designation for Bears Ears National Monument or the 1.9 million-acre designation for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Earlier this year, she and 27 Senate colleagues introduced S. 33, the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act, which would require greater state and local input in the monument designation process. In July 2016, the committee held a field hearing in Blanding, Utah, chaired by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, where local residents expressed virtually unanimous opposition to the designation of a large-scale monument for Bears Ears.

Related Issues: Energy