Gov. Herbert discusses potential national monument on Fox News
Gov. Herbert sat down with Fox News to discuss the never-ending debate over the imbalance of federal and state controlled land and the potential designation by President Obama of a new national monument in Utah.
On September 18, 1996, President Clinton declared the Grand Staircase-Escalante a national monument. Comprised of 1.7 million acres, the announcement came without warning, as then-Governor Leavitt, was told just a week before that no monument in Utah was being contemplated). The Grand Staircase is the largest national monument in the continental U.S. and has been a source of contention ever since it was announced. Now a group of 14 U.S. Senators are encouraging the president to take essentially the same action to designate the Greater Canyonlands a national monument (You can read the letter HERE).
Over the past year President Obama has said repeatedly that he intends to use his authority, “to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations,” and when a national monument was announced earlier this year, he clearly indicated this was just the first of other monuments designations. In addition, key environmental groups have made it clear that if Congress and the states don’t act, the President will take further steps, including taking action in Utah.
But Congress is working on this issue.
And while the governor recognizes the value national parks and monuments bring to the state, he has been clear that there is a better way to approach this decision. He has expressed his support for Rep. Rob Bishop’s (UT-01) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (UT-03) Public Lands Initiative. This approach would allow for the state to play a role in deciding what needs to be protected and what can remain open for development. Think of it as using a scalpel rather than a butcher knife. Over 500 stakeholder meetings have occurred over the past year and a half to gather input and to compile a balance lands bill for eastern Utah. Seven eastern Utah counties are involved in the process and all the stakeholders are still at the table.
And keep in mind, our state is already home to five National Parks, seven National Monuments, two National Recreation Areas, one National Historic Site and six National Forests. And you can add an additional 43 state parks to that total. In all, 37 million of Utah’s total 54 million acres are federal public land. That’s nearly 70 percent of our state already. That helps give some perspective on the proposal to secure the designation of an additional 1.8 million acres (think all of Delaware and Rhode Island) to be added to the list.
You can read the full Fox News story HERE.