SALT LAKE CITY – December 28, 2016 – Utah State Treasurer David Damschen issued the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s designation of the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears national monument:
“I am appalled by President Obama’s decision today to designate a Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah – a decision that blatantly ignores the will of the majority of Utahns and the input of every elected official in Utah who represents the area affected by the designation.
“The president has clearly misused his authority under the Antiquities Act, and in so doing has jeopardized the well-being of many Utahns with vested interests in the affected region.
“As chair of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Fund board of trustees, I am deeply concerned about the damaging impact this designation will have on lands held in trust for Utah public schools – an estimated 100,000 acres of school trust lands are contained within the designated monument, and the designation could have a disastrous impact on the endowment managed by the state for the benefit of its public school system. Approximately 64 percent of our state is federal public land, while only six percent is administered within the school trust. By his actions, the president is showing reckless disregard for Utah’s public education system and its funding.
“Further, as chair of the Utah Navajo Trust Fund, I am surprised at the disregard the president is showing for Native American groups – Utah Navajos in particular – who count these lands as their heritage.
“As frustrated as I might be with today’s decision, I am confident that our state’s efforts to challenge this action appropriately through the many administrative, legal and legislative avenues available to us will yield positive results.
“I will work with the incoming administration, Utah’s congressional delegation, tribal leaders, our governor, our attorney general, the Utah legislature, and San Juan County officials to find the appropriate resolution to this important and complex issue.”