Entering the monumental fray about “rescinding” or “resizing” the recently created Bears Ears National Monument in the nation’s Four Corners area of the rural West, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski issued a recent statement citing the economic harm that potential changes to the monument might create. In addition to releasing her statement, Mayor Biskupski sent an appeal directly to Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, in the form of a letter that was transmitted last week. The Mayor’s appeal included the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in reference to these concerns.
“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,” the Mayor wrote. Her objection to any changes to Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments was expressed on behalf of the people of Utah’s capital city.
Biskupski is concerned that the Monuments would be reviewed for extraction industry sales and leases (primarily for known coal deposits) was contrary to the direction she has continued for her city, noting that she wished to continue the sustainability goals established by her predecessor, Ralph Becker, who drove development of the capitol’s international airport to be one of the first green and completely energy independent airports in the nation. Biskupski stated, “We are a leader in the national conversation that mayors and other local leaders are having about shifting our energy sources to renewables.” The Salt Lake City mayor found that part of the “resize” proposal as counterproductive to those plans.
In the wake of the exit of the Outdoor Retailers Association bi-annual trade shows which were in a long-standing relationship with Salt Lake City, Biskupski made an appeal to the Department of the Interior about the additional economic impact that any change might precipitate as an unintended and severe consequence. “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,” the mayor wrote, “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.”
The city has also set up a public website as way to gather public comments before the May 26 deadline in the case of Bears Ears and on July 10th for “most National Monuments,” her office said.