The Latest: Interior Secretary tours Utah amid monument push


BLANDING, Utah (AP) — The Latest on a push for a new national monument in Utah (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is touring southeast Utah canyons and monuments while meeting with environmentalists, local politicians and others on a trip to research a proposal to create a new national monument.

Jewell on Thursday was touring archaeological and recreation sites outside the cities of Moab and Monticello. Jewell is meeting with supporters and opponents of the proposed Bears Ears monument.

A coalition of tribes says the 1.9 million-acre area needs bolstered protections.

Opponents say a monument would create another layer of unnecessary federal control and close the area for development and recreation. They’re instead backing legislation from U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz that would have Congress designate 1.4 million acres around Bears Ears as a conservation area.

Jewell is meeting with representatives for Bishop and Chaffetz while on her Utah tour.

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10:50 a.m.

Two Utah congressmen have unveiled legislation to protect land considered sacred to Native Americans, a plan seen as an alternative to designating the area as a national monument.

The bill from Republican U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz was released Thursday as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is visiting Utah to meet with supporters and opponents of the Bears Ears monument.

A coalition of tribes says the 1.9 million-acre area needs bolstered protections. Opponents say a monument would create another layer of unnecessary federal control and close the area for development and recreation.

One of two bills from the congressmen would protect 1.4 million acres around Bears Ears. The other bill would bar President Barack Obama from naming a monument in seven Utah counties, including the area in dispute.

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1 a.m.

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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