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Public Lands

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz asks to block funding for Bears Ears

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The Outdoor Industry Association quickly released a statement criticizing his attempt to “kill” the monument.

Jason Chaffetz
Screenshot taken Feb. 1 of Jason Chaffetz’ Instagram, @jasoninthehouse.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz asked a House subcommittee on Tuesday to block all proposed funding for Bears Ears National Monument.

He made the request in front of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriation, which held a members meeting on Tuesday.

“Every single elected official at every level of government, other than the president, is opposed to this monument,” Chaffetz said, listing off elected officials and bodies of government in the state of Utah that have voiced opposition to the monument.

The Utah Congressional delegation got less than one hour’s notice that former President Barack Obama would designate the monument less than a month before he left office, Chaffetz said, and Obama turned down their request to meet about the monument in April of last year. The monument encompasses roughly 1.35 million acres, which Chaffetz said is bigger than all five of Utah’s national parks, combined.

“We’re asking the committee to seriously consider making sure that no funding for the Bears Ears National Monument move forward,” Chaffetz said.

The Outdoor Industry Association released a statement Wednesday criticizing Chaffetz for his “attempt to kill the monument.” Last month, Chaffetz vowed to kill a bill seeking to sell excess federal lands after an outpouring of support for conservation from people in the outdoor and sportsman communities.

“Congressman Chaffetz calls himself a friend of sportsmen and outdoorists and claims to love public lands on his social media accounts, but his actions in Washington, D.C. have shown these words to be meaningless,” Alex Boian, VP of Government Affairs for OIA, said in the statement. “His request to federal appropriators to block critical funding for the Bears Ears National Monument is a backdoor attempt to kill the monument and speaks for itself. This follows his unsuccessful overtures to President Trump to rollback protections for this special place and is further evidence that Chaffetz and other elected officials in Utah are out of touch with their constituents and leaders across the American West.”

Chaffetz’s request to the committee was brief, sandwiched between two other requests: one seeking funding to improve roads in San Juan County, Utah, 90 percent of which is state and federal land, he said, including territory in Bears Ears National Monument. Children from the Navajo Nation miss up to 11 days of school each year because school buses can’t pass on those roads, Chaffetz said, creating an unfair educational disadvantage. His third request was to fully fund Payments In Lieu of Taxes, or PILT payments, moving forward. PILT payments are federal reimbursements to local governments to offset the loss of property taxes where land is owned by the government.