In a letter to the president, the senators urged the Obama administration to carve out a 1.8-million-acre monument on existing public lands in Grand, San Juan, Garfield, Wayne and Emery counties.
“Greater Canyonlands is one of our nation’s most stunning, wild and unique landscapes,” they wrote July 30. “It should be protected permanently for the benefit and education of future generations.”
A new national monument that protects the region would build on the past achievements of former Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, they said.
“The promise of Greater Canyonlands remains unfulfilled,” the letter stated. “As Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has noted, ‘there are some places that are too special to develop.’ Greater Canyonlands is certainly one of those.”
The proposed monument would surround Canyonlands National Park, running from Natural Bridges National Monument in the south to Labyrinth Canyon in the north.
The largest single chunk of the monument would be in San Juan County, and that concerns San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman.
Lyman said he has no window into the president’s mind. But based on the president’s past statements, he is concerned that Obama would take unilateral action to create a new monument.
“He’s stated that he wants to protect areas, and that if Congress won’t act, he will,” Lyman said.
According to Lyman, the county is proposing to protect some of the same areas that are included in the monument proposal.
Yet whereas the national monument proposal would protect a much larger area, San Juan County has been much more specific with its approach, Lyman said.
He said the county tried to give extra weight to conservationists and Native Americans as it works on Rep. Rob Bishop’s public lands initiative.
According to former Navajo Nation Council Delegate Mark Maryboy, the county is proposing to create a national conservation area on Navajo Nation lands. Lyman said the county will present its ideas to Navajo Nation representatives before its proposals go out for public review.
For more information about the letter, go to: www.greatercanyonlands.org/news/.