As Mayor of Salt Lake City, I urge residents of Utah’s Capital City to join me in speaking to protect the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Southern Utah.
These two natural treasures are under review by the U.S. Interior Department, and in jeopardy of being reduced in size or of having their monument status revoked entirely.
Any federal decision to modify acreage or roll back protection of these incredible spaces will have negative and far-reaching impacts on Salt Lake City, as well as our entire state.
Our Capital City is the gateway to the majestic national parks and monuments that make Southern Utah a worldwide tourist destination. These lands are powerful economic drivers for our city, with thousands of visitors launching their adventures to these iconic landscapes from Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City has already absorbed a serious economic blow with the Outdoor Industry Association’s recent announcement to move its biannual Outdoor Retailer trade shows. This decision was due largely to an impasse the OIA and state leaders reached on how best to use and preserve public lands.
While my Administration and others continue to reach out to the outdoor industry, both locally and nationally, we cannot afford further damage to our reputation posed by altering the monuments. As a city we are committed to doing all we can to bring more outdoor-oriented businesses to Salt Lake City, and to promote our many recreation opportunities to visitors and residents alike.
Many monument opponents want the lands left open for the possibility of extracting coal, oil, and gas. But expanding our carbon footprint is exactly the opposite direction Salt Lake City is taking. We are a leader in the national conversation mayors and other local leaders are having about shifting our energy sources to renewables. In fact, Salt Lake City is committed to embracing 100 percent clean, renewable energy sources by 2032. Cleaner air and a healthy future depends on facing the scientific facts of climate change and on making serious efforts to preserve our planet.
The Bears Ears National Monument designation also marked the first time Native American tribes have been vital partners in the process. As several tribal leaders have explained, this land is spiritually significant to native people, with more than 100,000 ancient archaeological sites within the 1.3 million-acre space. We must recognize and support our state’s indigenous cultures, their history, their voices, and their stake in the future of the land they hold sacred.
As Salt Lake City residents and Utahns, we can use our collective voice to support these monuments as they have been designated. Let us stand together for our cultural and historic heritage, a robust economy, and our common passion for the wild and open spaces of our beautiful state.
I encourage residents to register their comments on this important public issue, no matter their position on the monuments designation. This is an opportunity for each of us to participate.
My office will ensure all comments are delivered to the Interior Department by the specified deadlines.