Monday, May 01, 2017

Trump monuments order targets Canyons of the Ancients

The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is one of the 24 monuments targeted in President Donald Trump's order calling for a sweeping review by the secretary of the interior to determine whether they should keep their protected status. Canyons of the Ancients, just west of Cortez, Colo., features the largest concentration of archaeological sites in the country, according to the Bureau of Land Management. When it was designated in 2000 by former President Bill Clinton, it faced opposition from oil and gas developers as well as ranchers. Farmington resident John Byrom was one of the oil and gas developers to protest BLM plans for the national monument. Reached by phone Friday, Byrom said he is not opposed to all national monuments, but some have been designated despite opposition from surrounding communities. He said Trump's executive order could allow more community input about monuments like Canyons of the Ancients or the recently designated Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. Byrom said removing the designation would likely not have a lot of short-term impact because there is not currently a lot of drilling in the monument and its surrounding area. However, Byrom said increased flexibility could help development in the future. "That's an area that still has potential for oil and gas," Byrom said. He said the local farmers and the oil and gas industry have been frustrated over the years with the restrictions that the national monument created. While the designation left the monument open to the existing uses, including oil and gas and grazing, Byrom said it became harder to operate within its boundaries. "Canyons of the Ancients just made it more difficult to work on the wells you had," he said...more

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