New bills would create national park and ban mineral extraction in Bears Ears area

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Utah's Congressional Delegation is following up President Trump's unprecedented action on public lands with legislative action.

Two bills have been filed. One, will create a 6th national park in Utah. The other is being called a protection plan for the Bears Ears area.

The battle over public lands is divisive. While some are outraged over President Trump shrinking Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, others are celebrating.

Anna Tom, of McKracken Mesa is one of them. She says President Trump's proclamation is an answer to prayers.

"Keep it open to our herbal uses, like my mom is a medicine man, medicine woman, and we'll be able to collect and heal our patients," said Tom.

Now, Utah's Congressional Delegation is following up with legislation.

Representative Chris Stewart has a bill to create the Escalante Canyons National Park.

The 100,000 acre park will sit within the modified boundaries of the Grand Staircase.

He says it's common ground for both sides of the issue.

"We designate this 100,000, which is, as I said, majestic. We honor it as a park and we allow more freedom for some of the other acreage, which will help the local communities who don't work in the tourist industry," said Stewart, (R) Utah.

Representative John Curtis has a bill he says is a protection plan for the Bears Ears area.

It will provide for tribal co-management, mandate law enforcement, ban mineral extraction and create an Archaeological Resource Protection Unit.

Representative Rob Bishop says it's all part of a united front from our delegation.

"The hard work for Senator Hatch and the rest of the delegation starts from today, where we actually try to make sure some of these guarantees are put into statute, so there will be certainty and an end to the litigation," said Bishop, (R) Utah.

Opponents are moving forward with litigation. Five tribal governments are working together on a lawsuit that was filed on Monday.

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