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Letter: Time to restore Bears Ears and Grand-Escalante monuments

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The two buttes that make up the namesake for the Bears Ears National Monument reveal the vast landscape, photographed Monday, May 8, 2017.

Bears Ears National Monument was designated under the Antiquities Act in 2016 after a historic request from a coalition of five sovereign tribal nations, known as the Bears Ears inter-tribal coalition, for the protection of their sacred and ancestral lands. It took the coalition many years of hard work, grass-roots organizing, negotiations and public comment periods, but they finally had the designation.

Once designated, instead of putting in proper resources to care for and protect the lands, the Utah delegation requested the Trump administration overturn Bears Ears National Monument and decrease protections for Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Many legislators, especially the ones in rural Utah, like to claim “states rights” to this land while having deep ties to developer and extraction industries. There is also this ideology that these spaces are “their” backyard and no one has the right to enforce laws meant to protect these lands.

Living in Utah, we are surrounded by beautiful landscapes, but they are not our backyard. We are temporary guests in these wild, beautiful and sacred spaces.

Unfortunately, Gov. Cox and Utah legislators are invalidating the many years of effort that has been put into legally establishing these monuments in order to safeguard them for future generations.

It is time to restore these monuments and redirect our efforts to the healing of our state, land and nation.

Maurena Grossman, Salt Lake City

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