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Washington, D.C. Oct. 1, 2018 – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz) and Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Michele Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) led a pair of letters to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today, each signed by 61 of their House Democratic colleagues, urging him to halt work on any environmental impact statement (EIS) or monument management plan being prepared for Bears Ears National Monument or Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, both protected sites in Utah that President Trump attempted to shrink with a December 2017 presidential proclamation whose legal future is now in dispute.

Rep. Gallego is a member of the Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Lujan Grisham is chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The letter on Bears Ears is available at http://bit.ly/2IuhFvD, and the letter on Grand Staircase-Escalante is available at http://bit.ly/2ItYVfB.

Trump’s Presidential Proclamation 9681, issued on Dec. 4, 2017, sought to greatly reduce the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante and drew immediate lawsuits that have bene consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Secretary Zinke has hastily pushed for management plans to be put in place at what remains of the sites despite widespread opposition to the move and the lawsuits’ uncertain outcome.

The Trump administration recently suffered a defeat when Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that plaintiffs in the lawsuit must receive notice before any ground on the disputed public property is disturbed. As the Salt Lake Tribune reported on Sept. 24, “The plaintiffs had told the court they worried the Interior Department, which manages the lands, would approve mining or drilling operations that would permanently scar the landscape before the case could be decided.”

The remnants of Bears Ears National Monument now total 202,000 acres instead of the 1.3 million that President Barack Obama designated as Bears Ears in 2016. Trump’s proclamation reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante to three different monuments totaling approximately 1 million acres, a drastic cut from the 1.9 million acres President Clinton protected in 1996.

In addition to the threat of mining and drilling, both monuments were designed to protect culturally and historically sensitive landscapes from looting and vandalism. As the lawmakers write to Zinke today, “The current [management] plan only protects 15 percent of the original Bears Ears boundaries, returning the remaining 85 percent of Bears Ears National Monument to a management regime that too often left room for looting, vandalism and development threats, including those from extractive industries.”

The lawmakers write that to move forward with any management plan or EIS for the new boundaries while they are still being litigated “is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars and a transparent attempt to rush forward an illegal disposition of public lands before the courts have ruled.”

The Obama administration’s process for creating the original Bears Ears management plan included 15 public meetings in six states across the country. The rushed pace of the current planning process, in comparison, is producing sloppy and inconsistent management strategies. The lawmakers write that the process Zinke is overseeing “looks like an attempt to finalize President Trump’s unlawful action before serious objections are considered.”

The full list of signatories for both letters is available below.

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Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Rep. Terri A. Sewell
Rep. Earl Blumenauer
Rep. Frederica S. Wilson
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay
Rep. Grace F. Napolitano
Rep. Salud O. Carbajal
Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Rep. Adam B. Schiff
Rep. A Donald McEachin
Rep. Jerry McNerney
Rep. Betty McCollum
Rep. Darren Soto
Rep. Diana Titus
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier
Rep. Nanette Barragán
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II
Rep. Scott Peters
Rep. Roybal-Allard
Rep. Kathy Castor
Rep. Jared Huffman
Rep. Norma J. Torres
Rep. James P. McGovern
Rep. Mike Quigley
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Rep. Ted W. Lieu
Rep. Brendan F. Boyle
Rep. Adam Smith
Rep. Jamie Raskin
Rep. Mike Doyle
Rep. Judy Chu
Rep. Steve Cohen
Rep. John Yarmuth
Rep. Peter Welch
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa
Rep. Jared Polis
Rep. Zoe Lofgren
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Rep. John Garamendi
Rep. Grace Meng
Rep. Alan Lowenthal
Rep. Susan A. Davis
Rep. Albio Sires
Rep. Anthony Brown
Rep. Mark Pocan
Rep. Diana DeGette
Rep. Jackie Speier
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney
Rep. Mike Thompson
Rep. Jimmy Panetta
Rep. Niki Tsongas
Rep. José E. Serrano.
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. Raul Ruiz
Rep. Ben Ray Luján