Statement | Washington, DC | January 9, 2018

Testimony from National Trust for Historic Preservation Opposing the Shash Jáa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act (H.R. 4532)

The following is excerpted from testimony that the National Trust for Historic Preservation today provided to Congress. The testimony was submitted to the House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee for its hearing on the Shash Jáa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act (H.R. 4532). The testimony was submitted by Tom Cassidy, Vice President for Government Relations and Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“We believe this legislation is ill-advised and unnecessary given the already lawfully designated Bears Ears National Monument created by Proclamation 9558. This legislation is an attempt to legitimize President Trump’s unlawful proclamation and affirm the unacceptable exclusion of over 85% of the original designation.

“The National Trust, along with a broad coalition of Native American, conservation and historic preservation organizations, outdoor industry, scientists, and outdoor recreationists, has filed suit against the Trump Administration to strike down the President’s overreach of authority in revoking the Bears Ears National Monument.

“H.R. 4532 inappropriately delegates management of the monument—which consists of federal lands that belong to all Americans—to a non-federal entity narrowly comprised of local interests. This novel and unprecedented management structure goes well beyond ensuring local input—which is valuable and legally mandated in management of our public lands—to granting decision-making authority over management of public lands that are currently stewarded for the benefit of all Americans.

“We are also concerned about the restrictive criteria for the Tribal Management Councils, including a Utah residency requirement that denies eligibility for many of the duly elected representatives from five tribes with ancestral ties to the region, while prioritizing participation from San Juan County commissioners and others who have publicly denounced monument designations in the state of Utah.

“Finally, in light of well-documented opposition from elected leaders of the five tribes not only to the revocation of the Bears Ears National Monument, but also to the Tribal Management Council mechanism outlined in this legislation, as well as the reported lack of consultation with the tribes regarding development of the underlying bill, we urge opposition to the legislation moving forward without significant modifications.

“While we have serious concerns with this legislative proposal that prevent us from supporting the bill in its current form, we welcome the opportunity to continue to engage this subcommittee and other stakeholders regarding optimal strategies for protecting our nation’s historic and cultural heritage.”

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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