Utah national monument proposal stirs fierce debate

BLANDING, Utah (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be visiting the expansive “Bears Ears” area in southeastern Utah this week to meet with people and go on field visits to research a proposal to create a new national monument.

A coalition of Native American tribes says the lands are sacred and in need of bolstered protections. The proposal, however, has become the latest battleground in the Western public lands debate.

Republican leaders, some residents and a few Native Americans oppose a proposal they believe would become another layer of unnecessary federal control and close the area for development and recreation.

GOP lawmakers are proposing instead to protect about 4 million acres of land in the state and open up 1 million acres around the state for recreation and oil and gas development.

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