Utah’s governor doesn’t much like the idea of creating a Greater Canyonlands National Monument covering a large area of public land in southern Utah.
Environmental groups are asking President Obama to use the federal Antiquities Act to set aside 1.4 million acres of public land on both sides of the Colorado River as a national monument. Governor Gary Herbert says there are better ways to protect public land.
“I think this proposal is a design to skirt the law where Congress creates wilderness and creates these areas that ought to be protected," Herbert told his monthly news conference on KUED. And because they can’t get Congress to do it, they’re trying to find some way to have a friendly administration to create a monument that otherwise would not happen.”
Scott Groene with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance agrees Congress is unlikely to enact the proposal, but he argues this area deserves protection and the Antiquities Act offers a way to get the job done.
“What we see is all these areas are controversial when they’re first designated, and then you come back in fifteen years and everybody pretty much agrees it’s a good idea," Groene tells KUER. "Except for a handful of politicians that use this as a re-election issue.”
President Clinton used the Antiquities Act to create the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996, something Governor Herbert says was an abuse of federal law.