Monday, June 20, 2016

Archaeologists petition Obama for monument

FARMINGTON — How a 1.9 million-acre parcel in southeast Utah dotted with archaeological and historical sites is managed has been a source of contention for years. Now, with less than one year left of Barack Obama’s presidency, multiple groups have petitioned him to declare the land — known as the Bears Ears region — a national monument. The latest push comes from a group of more than 700 archaeologists who have signed a letter to the president asking him to create a national monument if Congress does not pass a bill adequately protecting the area’s fragile archaeological sites. The monument proponents cite looting and vandalism as a reason to create the national monument. But San Juan County (Utah) Commissioner Phil Lyman argues that those issues are minimal, considering the large amount of land involved. Archaeologist Bill Lipe said he wants to see the region protected, whether through national monument designation or through congressional action. Two congressmen have drafted a bill to protect 1.1 million acres in the Bears Ears region. The main difference between the proposals is that the draft bill works to balance economic development and preservation while the monument status would be more oriented toward preservation, Lipe said. “Either approach would be better than what’s out there now,” he said...more

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