BLM opens public comment period for national monumentsBLM opens public comment period for national monuments

On Jan 16, the Bureau of Land Management will begin taking public comments in preparation for the new management plan of the three newly designated monuments — Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons — and the lands that were excised from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Federal Register notice is available online here.

Comments will be accepted for 60 days or 15 days after the last public meeting, whichever is later. Public meetings have not been announced yet.

Grand Staircase Escalante Partners urged its members and all those determined to save the monument to participate in the public comment process and suggested including the following points in submissions:

—The preparation of new Resource Management Plans should be postponed until the legal challenges to Proclamation 9682 of Dec. 4, 2017 are resolved. Proceeding with the preparation of new plans at this time will likely waste agency resources.

—Until the legal actions challenging the recent modifications to the monument are resolved, the BLM should agree to manage both included and excluded lands according to the 1999 GSENM Resource Management Plan.

—The public comment period should extend to at least ninety days following the last public hearing.

—Public hearings should be scheduled in Salt Lake City, Utah, Flagstaff, Arizona, Denver, Colorado, and Washington D.C. in addition to the gateway communities of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Grand Staircase Escalante Partners maintains that the Trump proclamation is an unlawful revocation of the existing monument and will be overturned in a court of law. The president only has the authority to create a national monument under the Antiquities Act; only Congress can revoke or reduce a national monument. This proclamation is currently being challenged in court, and Grand Staircase Escalante Partners claims that the BLM’s rush to act is an irresponsible use of limited resources, which should instead be prioritized for protecting the Grand Staircase-Escalante and the natural and cultural resources that were designated for protection in 1996.

Grand Staircase Escalante Partners will encourage the BLM to continue to manage all of the lands within the original boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument according to the direction set forth in the 1999 Resource Management Plan until the legitimacy of Proclamation 9558 (9682) is fully settled by the courts. It encouraged its members and supporters to provide comments that reflect their considerations for the management of the 1.87 million acres of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

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