Day 1 of Interior Secretary’s Utah visit starts with ‘diverse opinions and positions’

Background: stock image of House of Fire at Bears Ears National Monument, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke arrived in Salt Lake City Sunday to begin a four-day listening tour regarding the review of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, both of which are being reviewed by the secretary under President Trump’s April 27 executive order.

The secretary’s mission in Utah is to hear from local communities and stakeholders and to learn more about the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Zinke began the day with a meeting with Gov. Gary Herbert and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. The secretary then had meetings with the State Historic Preservation Office and Utah Department of Heritage, the Legislative Leadership and State Attorney General and the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration – or SITLA.

Zinke then met with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition which included members of leadership from the Hopi Tribe, Utah Navajo Chapter of Olijato, Navajo Nation Council, Ute Indian Tribe and Zuni Tribe.

“Sunday’s meetings represented diverse opinions and positions on the monument designations,” the press release stated, “and the secretary was eager to hear from all parties represented.”

Read more: Thousands rally in support of national monuments ahead of Interior Secretary’s visit

While Zinke has met with a number of representatives from the tribes that make up the Inter-Tribal Coalition, Sunday was the first meeting with the entire coalition.

The delegates talked on a government-to-government level and discussed a number of issues relating to the management of public lands, the specific monuments under review and sovereignty, according to the statement.

The secretary maintained his commitment to working with the tribes and local communities during the review.

Zinke held an open media availability session at the Salt Lake City office of the Bureau of Land Management following the meeting with the Inter-Tribal Coalition to recap the day.

Looking ahead

On Monday, Zinke, Herbert and members of Utah’s congressional delegation will travel to Bears Ears National Monument to do a morning aerial tour of the south part of the monument and an afternoon hiking tour of the House of Fire site at the monument.

Last Friday, Zinke announced the formal public comment process for monument review will begin on May 12.

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