Utah lawmaker wants to allow the creation of state monuments on public lands

Fantasy CanyonWhat if President Donald Trump rescinds the Bears Ears National Monument?

Well, how about a smaller Bears Ears State Monument?

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, says to his surprise there is no way to create a state monument – only state parks.

His new bill, introduced Friday, would set up a policy and process to do it.

Eliason and his family recently visited Fantasy Canyon out in the Uintah Basin and found it amazing.

“It is only the size of five football fields. It is like a space ship dropped it down, surrounded by sagebrush and oil wells, but something amazing.”

Should Trump rescind Bears Ears – and his bill pass – by next session there could be a formal Bears Ears State Monument proposal before lawmakers.

If not Bears Ears, then some other suitable sites in the state.

Under HB385 state Parks, officials would have to take inventory of various areas to see if they could qualify for state monument designation.

Don’t worry, the governor wouldn’t have to power to create one on his own, as a U.S. president can under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Only the Legislature could create one, with the agreement of the governor, via a special resolution.

In fact, Eliason says way back in 1959 state park officials did indeed draw up a list of special places in Utah – and that could be a starting point.

Yes, it would cost some money for a state monument.

But Eliason says Park officials say they often drive right past many beautiful areas as they maintain campgrounds and other state outdoor facilities.

“It wouldn’t take much to maintain some of these monuments, which today are completely unprotected.”

The House recently voted to make the Spiral Jetty an official piece of state art.

But what does that mean? Asked Eliason. There is no process to protect an outdoor state piece of art.

Naming the Spiral Jetty a state monument would to the trick, and put the Park department in charge of maintaining the unique work.