Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert urged President Barack Obama today during a meeting to work with states and local community leaders on public lands issues instead of pursuing a unilateral national monument declaration.
In personal remarks, Gov. Herbert told President Obama of the mistrust and acrimony that still exists in Utah from President Bill Clinton’s 1996 declaration of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Gov. Herbert reminded the president that former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and other local and congressional leaders first learned about the monument–a designation two and a half times larger than the entire state of Rhode Island–in the news media. No local or state collaboration took place.
In conjunction with the meeting held with governors from across the nation, Gov. Herbert also hand-delivered a letter to President Obama today during White House meetings.
“Given the heated and antagonistic environment, which exists currently related to public lands, I respectfully ask you refrain from using the Antiquities Act to designate a national monument in Utah,” Gov. Herbert said. “History shows this sort of action will only exacerbate an already tense situation and will further perpetuate the longstanding public lands conflict. Any unilateral action could set back progress, perhaps for decades.”
The full contents of the letter can be viewed here.