Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other top officials from the Obama administration will host a public meeting in Bluff, Utah, on Saturday, July 16 to discuss future management of the Bears Ears region.
The meeting will be from 1-4 p.m. at the Bluff Community Center at the corner of Third Street and Mulberry Avenue.
According according to a July 12 Department of Interior announcement, the meeting is “regarding community visions for management of southern Utah’s public lands, members of the public are invited to attend and comment.”
Participating federal agency representatives will also attend the meeting, including Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie, Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze, National Parks Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, and acting U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Roberts. U.S. Forest Chief Tom Tidwell has also been invited.
The protection of cultural and natural resources of the vast area of public lands in southeast Utah has been a hot topic for the last few years.
Conservation groups and Native American tribes – including the Ute Mountain Utes, Navajos, Uintah-Ouray Utes, Hopi, and Zuni – have been advocating that President Barack Obama declare a 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument under the Antiquities Act.
Utah legislators are pushing for a federal bill to form the Bears Ears National Conservation Area on 1.1 million acres.
“We’re excited that D.C. officials are coming out to hear different viewpoints and what the issues are for protecting this area,” said Gavin Noyes, executive director of Utah Dine Bikeyah, a grassroots nonprofit that supports the Bears Ears Coalition of five tribes.
The Bears Ears area contains more than 100,000 archaeological sites with cultural ties to Native American tribes in the American Southwest.