The legislation formalizes state opposition to the 1.35-million acre national monument, which includes more than one-quarter of San Juan County.
The massive monument was created on December 27, 2016 by outgoing President Barack Obama. The designation by Obama was the culmination of an intense lobbying effort by a coalition that includes several Native American tribes and environmental groups.
Elected officials at the county and state level have been united in opposition to the new monument, which was created through the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act allows the President to unilaterally move to protect threatened areas.
Since the designation, the effort to move forward with the monument planning process has stalled in the early stages of the Trump Administration. Secretary of the Interior nominee Ryan Zenke, who has not yet been approved by the US Senate, has stated that Utah will be the first stop in his new role in order to investigate the monument.
Plans for Zenke to visit San Juan County have not been announced, but Ed Roberson, the new state director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), visited the area on February 7 and 8. (See the adjacent story.)
The bill, which was fast-tracked through the legislature, had significant support from both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House, the bill was supported by a vote of 60-14, while it was 22-6 in the Senate.
A delegation of San Juan County residents traveled the 600-mile roundtrip to support the legislation. Despite a large group of mostly Wasatch Front residents who opposed the bill, legislators move ahead with the bill.