More than three years ago, The Pew Charitable Trusts joined a public process begun by Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republicans, aimed at ending three decades of uncertainty over whether to protect or develop public lands in eastern Utah. The initiative was an attempt to find common ground between conservation and development interests.
On July 14, the congressmen introduced the Utah Public Lands Initiative Act (H.R. 5780). Pew cannot support the legislation as currently written, and we have outlined our concerns in a letter to the bill’s sponsors. We remain engaged in discussions to see if the bill can be improved to a point where it could pass in the Senate and be sent to the president; however, time is short. If real progress cannot be shown, Pew believes that the president should use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the Bears Ears region as a national monument in October. All sides recognize that this special place needs to be preserved for future generations.