SALT LAKE CITY - Governor Gary R. Herbert will take action against an internal Interior Department document that indicates the federal agency is considering designating two areas in Utah as national monuments.
The Governor will personally meet with Ken Salazar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Undersecretary David Hayes in two separate meetings on Sunday and Monday, respectively, in Washington D.C. to express his deep concerns about the possible action.
An Interior Department document made public today indicates the federal government has listed San Rafael Swell, in Emery County, and Cedar Mesa, in San Juan County, for possible designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
"News that the Interior Department is secretly looking at a proposal to lock up public lands in Utah, without seeking input or even having the consideration to contact our state and local officials, is both upsetting and offensive," Governor Herbert said. "I will challenge federal officials to explain to me how they could possibly be in a better position to know what's best for our rural lands than those of us here on the ground in this state.
"If we have learned anything from the mess created by Washington bureaucrats and President Bill Clinton with the designation of the Grand Staircase National Monument in 1996, it is that local solutions to conservation efforts for these public treasures are always more effective than a top-down approach from Washington," the Governor said. "At the very least, this should be a collaborative process between state and local officials and the federal government."
Officials in San Juan and Emery counties are already working with stakeholders, through a public process, to address wilderness and other protective measures in these two areas. Governor Herbert's recently created Balanced Resource Council is helping to guide these efforts in an inclusive and transparent manner.
"I join with members of Utah's federal delegation who have already called upon Secretary Salazar to disavow any intentions to take action on our public lands without adequate consideration for Utah residents," the Governor said.
The Governor will be in Washington D.C. for the National Governors Association Winter Meeting Feb. 19- Feb. 23.