Zinke Recommends Reduction, Possible Breaking Apart of Bears Ears

By Amy Roberts June 12, 2017

Today, despite overwhelming support to keep the monument as designated, Secretary Zinke issued an Interim Report to President Trump that recommends the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument be “revised through the use of appropriate (presidential) authority, Congress authorize tribal co-management of designated cultural areas, Congress designate selected areas within the existing (Bears Ears National Monument) as national recreation areas or national conservation areas, as defined by law, and (that) Congress clarify the intent of the management practices of wilderness or WSAs within a monument.”

The recommendation would reduce and potentially break up the monument and the protection it provides into sub-divisions that may or may not ensure protections for the recreation assets within the current monument going forward.

Bears Ears will remain intact until a final action by President Trump.

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is disappointed by today’s interim recommendations by the Secretary to the President to adjust the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument.

Outdoor companies, user groups and individuals from across the outdoor industry worked tirelessly over the past several years to protect this special place through legislation. When the legislative process failed, OIA endorsed executive action to protect Bears Ears. We are worried that the legislative process would fail again, leaving these important areas unprotected.

We were, however, heartened to hear Secretary Zinke call the Antiquities Act “an American success” that has preserved many national treasures. Actions taken by presidents to protect public lands under the Antiquities Act have long been respected and honored by their successors. This is especially true when, as was the case of Bears Ears National Monument, a long and thorough process, complete with significant local input, preceded a monument designation.

We appreciate Secretary Zinke’s process over these last 45 days, his willingness to listen to OIA and the outdoor industry’s concerns, and we will encourage him to make a final recommendation that keeps the bulk of Bears Ears National Monument intact and protected. 

We are concerned that the recommended boundary revisions and multiple legislative land designations proposed within the current monument may affect important recreation assets throughout the landscape. We will work closely with Interior and the recreation community in the coming months to ensure these assets are protected.

In addition, we will continue to correct misinformed assertions that the protection of public lands hurts local economies. The facts clearly point to the opposite conclusion.  Our public lands support the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy and 7.6 million American jobs, but also attract millions of visitors who spend billions of dollars, much of that supporting the surrounding, local economies.

Secretary Zinke also announced that the formal comment period for Bears Ears has been extended through July 10, 2017. Register your comments today at OIA’s Advocacy Center (comments are filed directly to www.regulations.gov).

We will impress upon our elected leaders the importance of protecting our shared public lands and that our laws, such as the Antiquities Act, remain intact as they are important tools to protect our nation’s special places, to ensure that Americans can continue to hunt, fish, hike, bike, camp, climb and otherwise enjoy our public lands and to support the outdoor recreation economy and the millions of American jobs that depend on it.