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Committee Reviews Bill to Codify Protections for Trump’s New Monuments, Create Utah’s Sixth National Park

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 14, 2017 -

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on H.R. 4558, the “Grand Staircase-Escalante Enhancement Act.” Introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) the bill codifies the boundaries of the newly-created Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments and creates Utah’s sixth national park.

“The key to success in this region, is finding creative solutions that benefit both the tourism and the natural resources industries, while preserving our Western culture,” Rep. Stewart stated.

Though national monuments are often falsely considered a boon for local economies, “over two decades after [the original designation] we know that while there has been some increase in tourism, it has not been enough to economically sustain these communities,” he added.

“The opportunity now lies with Congress to protect and set apart the places in Utah that deserve it, to consider what the lands mean to those who live on them as well as those who visit, to apply the law as designed and assert its proper authority in establishing the best fit for Utah and all of America,” former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt stated.

Leland F. Pollock, Chairman of the Garfield County Commission, highlighted many of the problems associated with the fact that 93% of the county is under federal ownership, a problem which has been magnified by the restrictive land uses that accompanied the 1996 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument designation.

“Over the past few decades, enjoyment of public land and park resources by current generations has suffered at the hands of those who believe federal lands should be managed to lock people out and prohibit reasonable visitation and access,” Pollock said. For the past 21 years Garfield County has been forgotten by federal managers thousands of miles away who do not understand the impact the Monument has had on the real lives of people in Southern Utah.”

In an effort to give disenfranchised local residents a voice, H.R. 4558 establishes a Management Council made up of local stakeholders and elected leaders directed to develop land management plans for relevant federal agencies.

“Through local input working in cooperation with federal land managers, we can achieve the goals of enjoyment and use of the land now and preservation of these lands for future generations of all Americans, not just a select few,” Pollock stated. The principles in this legislation allow us to return these public lands back to public hands.”

The original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument placed draconian land-use restrictions on traditional uses such as grazing, hunting, and fishing, and energy development. Such restrictions resulted in an approximate $9 billion loss to Garfield County and a county-wide state of emergency.

Pressed by a Democratic Member on whether energy development would be allowed on portions of the land formerly within Grand Staircase-Escalante, Rep. Stewart made no apologies: “That’s one of the things we’re trying to do for the local communities: to make these resources available to them, so that, as I said, they can have opportunities that have been taken from them.”

Under Stewart’s bill, all land uses would fall under the same rigorous environmental protections governing all federal lands.

Click here for more information on the bill.  

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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