Rally in support of Utah's National Monuments ahead of Secretary Zinke's visit

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Hundreds of people filled the steps of the Utah State Capitol during a rally to defend Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments ahead of a visit from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. 
 
Secretary Zinke is coming to Utah next week for a four day listening tour to review the state's national monuments. The visit comes at the heart of President Donald Trump's effort to curb federal protection of land.
 
Trump signed an executive order last month that reviews presidential power to designate lands as national monuments. CNN reports, the move "... sets into motion a process that could see Trump roll back the protection of lands designated by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama under the Antiquities Act. Trump will be the first president to do so if he chooses to shrink a national monument."
 
Utahns that attended Saturday's rally told ABC4 Utah that the executive order doesn't sit well with them.
 
"It's already been said this is a monument, you can't say 'yo this is not a monument anymore,' " Joshua Tesch told Good4Utah's Brittany Johnson. "I feel like we've been ignored since the current administration has come into office."
 
According to supporters of Utah's National Monuments, Zinke has turned down a face-to-face meeting and will be speaking with state leaders instead, in closed door meetings.
 
"Their only intention is to destroy sacred ancestral lands, which otherwise could be protected, and we would like what is in place, to remain," explained James Adakai, with the Navajo Nation, who also serves as commissioner for Bears Ears. "Unlike other designations, this {Bears Ears} is very unique, very special and very sacred, and you cannot take those away from the tribes."
 
"I think that our local leaders and national leaders are talking together but I don't think they're talking to the people at all -- that's what's wrong with this whole process," explained Steve Schmidd, who also attended the rally.
 
"What would you like to see happen?" Johnson asked.
 
"Open door meetings. The meeting with Zinke tomorrow is closed door -- both meetings. That's pretty much how we operate in this state and it's very frustrating from the public stand point not to be included in that process," replied Schmidd.
 
"Make sure you consult with all the people. Everyone here {at the rally} and people on all sides before you make a decision. Make sure you're listening to the people because that's what democracy is all about," said Toby Lowry, who wants Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante to remain National Monuments.
 
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch will join Zinke in Salt Lake City for a kickoff event tomorrow.

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