Letter: Suing to reverse the monument proclamations constitutes the opposite of “science-based policy”

FILE - In this May 8, 2017, file photo, is Arch Canyon within Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, File)

You can’t have it both ways, Gov. Spencer Cox. First, you joined other Utah Republican officials in supporting a misguided and money-wasting lawsuit to erase our two remarkable national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Then, on the same day, you praised the creation of climate change institutes at our two major universities, celebrating Utah’s “national and global leadership in science-based policy.”

Suing to reverse the monument proclamations constitutes the exact opposite of “science-based policy.” This regressive attack on our monuments subverts efforts to stave off catastrophic climate change and loss of biodiversity. Instead, the joint statement in support of the lawsuit recycles decades-old language about “abusive federal overreach” and calls for “smart stewardship” to remain “with the people closest to the land.”

Those “people closest to the land” actually support our national monuments— from the San Juan County Commission to the Boulder-Escalante Chamber of Commerce to 80 percent of citizens in Western states.

Preserving large expanses of our public lands forms a key element in climate resilience. Both monuments have carefully drawn “science-based” boundaries, crafted with conservation, community, and traditional Indigenous knowledge in mind. Both monuments are filled with “objects” the Antiquities Act intends to protect.

We have just embarked on a management plan process to articulate how best to conserve these resources — a national conversation that could lead to a visionary, adequately funded, legally binding outline for the future of these lands.

Joining your benighted colleagues to remove protections already in place takes us backwards. You upend the management plan process. You ignore the recommendations of scientists. Instead, what a wonderfully forward-looking statement you could have made, celebrating the extraordinary opportunities these new climate institutes now have to partner with scientists and volunteers at Grand Staircase and Bears Ears. That would truly be smart stewardship.

Stephen Trimble, Torrey

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