County says Bears Ears Coalition has no jurisdiction
Oct 04, 2016 | 13400 views | 0 0 comments | 290 290 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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The San Juan County Commission approved a resolution on October 4 regarding the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition proposal to create the Bears Ears National Monument.

The county resolution states that the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is a non-governmental organization that has no jurisdiction over land-use planning activities in San Juan County.

The county resolution outlines several key points that Commissioners say are roadblocks to the creation of the proposed national monument.

The resolution states that a number of property rights exist in the proposed monument that do not meet the definition of public lands, including 43 grazing allotments, 661 water-right infrastructure, 151,000 acres of state trust land, 18,000 acres of private property, and hundreds of miles of roads and infrastructure which are granted a RS2477 right-of-way.

The resolution adds that the proposal violates at least 18 established planning efforts, including a Memorandum of Agreement with the Navajo Nation.

The resolution states that the coalition’s assertion of “rampant looting” conflicts with reports of local and federal law enforcement agencies.

In summary, the county resolution states that the proposal does not meet the “quality, utility, objectivity and integrity standards that are required of federal agencies for decision making.” It asks that the federal government follow existing federal law, which rules out an arbitrary and unilateral designation of public lands.

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition has asked President Barack Obama to create the Bears Ears National Monument using the Antiquities Act.

The proposed monument could be as large as 1.9 million acres, or 38 percent of the entire landmass of San Juan County.

The resolution was approved unanimously by the Commissioners. It is part of a report on the proposed monument that was created by consultants at Stillwater Technical Solutions.

The report outlines procedural requirements, governmental prerogatives, and the required statutory process that would be required for the designation.

The county will present the report to elected federal officials in Salt Lake City on October 10 and to Department of the Interior officials in Washington, DC on October 12.

Commissioners approved an increase in the budget to present the report to the federal officials. In total, San Juan County will pay $53,000 to Stillwater Technical Solutions to develop and present the report.

In other matters at the Commission meeting, Commissioners approved funding for an emergency watershed project to shore up low water crossings in Montezuma Canyon. The bids are paid by a state grant of federal funds, with the county contributing roads materials as an in-kind match. Bids approved are $687,740 for Feller Enterprises, and $783,900 for Harward and Reese.

Commissioners also approved a new process to notify county residents who have previously used the tax abatement process, and abated taxes for several county residents who are eligible for the abatement process.
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