Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bears Ears controversy ramps up with Jewell's visit, Bishop's planned legislation

The proposed 1.4 million acres of the Bears Ears region contained in a massive public lands bill being unveiled this week would actually be split in two, with the southern portion set aside for traditional Native American uses. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and chief architect of the measure, said the region on federal lands in southeastern Utah will come with a new management structure that includes a tribal committee to ensure traditional access for wood gathering, ceremonies and gathering of plants. "We spell out what the management practices will be and the purpose of those," Bishop said. "The lower half is strictly for conservation. … They will be able to continue those traditional activities in a way that would not be guaranteed under a monument designation." The final version of Bishop's bill is due to be released late this week, coinciding with a three-day, packed tour of San Juan and Grand counties by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Jewell will meet with tribal leaders of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, visit with San Juan County commissioners and hear from congressional staffers from Bishop's and Rep. Jason Chaffetz's offices. Cody Stewart, Gov. Gary Herbert's policy adviser, will also be at the talks, with Herbert already committed to attend a meeting of the National Governors' Association. As the tempo accelerates around the Bears Ears controversy — the coalition is pushing President Barack Obama to declare 1.9 million acres a national monument — all sides in the issue are scrambling for the ear of Jewell, who has promised no designation will be made without local input. To that end, beyond the intense slate of meetings, tours and hikes, Jewell will host a three-hour community meeting in Bluff to hear from residents on the issue...more

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