Lee, Herbert, Bishop Issue Joint Statement After Bears Ears Hearing

August 1, 2016

BLANDING, UT—Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Gov. Gary Herbert, and Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01) issued the following statement after today’s Energy and Natural Resources field hearing on the potential Bears Ears monument designation:

"We have listened to the people of San Juan County and the verdict is clear: the people who live near Bears Ears do not want Washington, DC to create a Bears Ears monument. We hope that the current administration will take this opportunity to choose a path of cooperation and consensus, and not let outside interest groups force their preferences on the people that live here."

"Taking care of their ancestral land – protecting and preserving it for the next generation – isn’t optional for many Native Americans; it’s a sacred duty,” Sen. Lee said. “Take away their access to the land – restrict their stewardship over the earth’s bounty – and it won’t be long before their culture begins to fade away. Yet that’s exactly what the Obama administration is contemplating with the potential national-monument designation of the Bears Ears region.”

"There is a big difference between having something done to us rather than something done with us,” Gov. Herbert said. “A unilateral monument designation forced upon the local community would be incredibly divisive. Fortunately there is a better path forward with the Public Lands Initiative."

“Having been in San Juan County today, it is more clear than ever to me that the PLI is the will of the people, not a national monument," said Rep. Bishop. "We are dealing with people's lives here - and that deserves the careful consideration that the legislative process provides. Mandating a monument with the stroke of a pen will only exacerbate local issues and will chip away at people's right to control their own destiny.”

Lee chaired today’s hearing with Herbert and Bishop participating as witnesses. Additional witnesses included Chester Johnson, Aneth Chapter of the Navajo Nation; Lewis Singer, Blue Mountain Dine; and Bruce Adams, San Juan County Commissioner. Officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service, as well as members of the Bears Ears Coalition were invited to today’s hearing, but declined to participate.

Click here to download the video of today’s hearing.

Click here for witness testimonies.