A letter petitioning the creation of a Greater Canyonlands National Monument was sent to President Obama last week.
The letter, signed by 14 US Senators, none of them from Utah, urges President Obama to use the Antiquities Act to declare the monument and “protect (the area) permanently”.
The proposed Greater Canyonlands Ntl Monument would encompass 1.8 million acres and would include significant portions of San Juan County, including most of the public land west of Highway 191 and north of Highway 95.
The last time the Antiquities Act was used in Utah was the unilateral designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
The Grand Staircase designation, similarly 1.8 million acres, was controversial, with Utah Senators and Representatives receiving only a 24-hour notice before Clinton declared the monument in neighboring Arizona during the 1996 presidential election campaign.
The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, in neighboring Dolores and Montezuma counties, CO, was designated by Clinton in 2000 using the Antiquities Act.
Utah Representative Rob Bishop hopes to counter the most recent efforts to designate the Greater Canyonlands National Monument with his Public Lands Initiative, which would create designations for a range of public land in eastern Utah.
If passed, the Bishop Public Lands Initiative is likely to eliminate the use of the Antiquities Act for unilateral designations on these federal lands.
Bishop is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation.
Bishop’s efforts have included gathering input from groups ranging from environmental advocates, oil and gas industry leaders, and county commissioners.
Bishop’s initiative hopes to bring different views and interest groups to compromise and work together to protect Utah’s environmental and economic future.
Several counties in eastern Utah have submitted proposals for the bill. A local effort to create a San Juan County portion of the Bishop Public Lands Initiative is expected to be announced in coming weeks.