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STATEMENT: Interior Secretary meets with extremist politicians while ignoring tribes on monument rollbacks

DENVER—Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today met with commissioners from San Juan County, Utah to discuss shrinking or eliminating Bears Ears National Monument. The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Deputy Director Greg Zimmerman:

“Secretary Zinke is willing to meet with Utah politicians who have a history of insulting tribes, while ignoring requests from the sovereign tribal nations who spent years fighting to protect Bears Ears. Today’s meeting is further proof that Zinke’s so-called review of national monuments is rigged, and will occur behind closed doors without the input of so many stakeholders who support Bears Ears National Monument.”

Previous statements and actions from San Juan County commissioners:

  • In October 2012, Commissioner Phil Lyman told tribal leaders they “lost the war” and shouldn’t have input on public lands issues.

  • In May 2014, Commissioner Lyman led an illegal ATV ride through cultural sites in Utah’s Recapture Canyon. The illegal activity led to thousands of dollars in damages. Commissioner Lyman spent 10 days in jail for his role and was fined $96,000. The cultural sites through the heart of Recapture Canyon remain closed to motorized vehicles.

  • In July 2016, at a public meeting hosted by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Commissioner Bruce Adams said of the Bears Ears region, “nobody really settled here” before his white ancestors.

On April 26, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition sent a letter to Secretary Zinke noting that:

“Our letters to your office from each of our Tribal nations, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and the Bears Ears Commission requesting meetings with you have gone unanswered. It seems illogical that letters sent nearly 100 days ago have not been answered, yet there will be review of Bears Ears within the next 45 days.”


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