Bears Ears Coalition & Interior Department Ignore Invitations to Collaborate with Utah Lawmakers

Representatives Rob Bishop (UT-01) and Jason Chaffetz (UT-03) have asked the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, as well as the Department of the Interior, for proposed co-management language to be added to the Utah Public Lands Initiative Act (PLI).

The coalition has refused to provide any language and, in a recent communication, refused to collaborate on the issue.

Rep. Bishop personally called the Secretary of the Interior, and in a September 14th hearing of the Subcommittee on Federal Lands, Bishop reiterated his desire to hear from the Department of the Interior with suggested legislative language for co-management within PLI. The Department of the Interior has yet to respond. Members of Utah’s congressional delegation sent letters (Nov 2nd & 18th) to the co-chairmen and members of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition seeking potential language to implement a co-management system.

Congressmen Bishop & Chaffetz issued the following statements:

Bishop: “It’s important for Congress to protect this area because the stated goals of the administration cannot be done with an executive order. Only a change in statute can accomplish these goals. I like the idea of co-management. The president, with or without the Antiquities Act, cannot produce it. We are committed to doing it. My office has now written draft language to create a system of co-management.

“It is frustrating that efforts to work with people who claim a great interest in this area are continuously rebuffed with arguments that parrot special interest groups. Ironically, if this group is banking on a monument, they will never get the co-management they want. We’re willing to give it to them. Why can’t they just say yes?”

Chaffetz: “The President’s promise of co-management between the tribes and the federal government cannot be gained through executive action. Only Congress can authorize such agreements.”

Co-management would grant authority to Native Americans to share power in the decision-making process. The law does not currently allow for co-management, and the President has no power to deliver it through executive order, even through the Antiquities Act. Only Congress can make this happen.    

Background and further information can be found at UtahPLI.com.