Zinke Proposes Co-Management with Tribes on Bears Ears

This is an AP story from the Colorado Springs Gazette here:

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, said he wants to make sure Native American culture is preserved and said Congress should approve legislation granting tribes legal authority to “co-manage” some of the Bears Ears site.

“I have enormous respect for tribes,” Zinke said, adding that he supports Native American efforts to restore “sovereignty, respect and self-determination.”

Instead of the monument designation, which prevents a range of development, Zinke said some of the sprawling, 1.3 million acre site should be designated for conservation or recreation. He called on Congress to approve a land-management bill for Bears Ears and other federal lands.

In the Gazette printed edition, it showed more of the AP story. So I tried to find that at the AP site (had to sign up but free) and found this.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendation to downsize the new Bears Ears National Monument in Utah was applauded by the state’s top Republican leaders.

However, it marked a stinging setback for a coalition of Western tribes that pushed for protection of lands they consider sacred.

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, said Monday he’s committed to make sure Native American culture is preserved and vowed to push for Congress to approve legislation granting tribes legal authority to co-manage some of the Bears Ears site.

He said he discussed the idea with the tribes and that they came away happy with the plan.

Several tribal leaders balked at that characterization, saying they weren’t briefed on the plan and consider the idea to be an attempt to temper their criticism.

They joined environmental groups in vowing to file lawsuits if President Donald Trump accepts the recommendation and shrinks the monument.

If I were reporting this, I might call around to different Tribes and find out with whom Zinke had spoken. As reported here, it makes you wonder why the cited Tribes would rather have the Monument as designated, than co-management. I wonder if the reporter spoke with the Inter-Tribal Coalition (they were “several Tribal leaders”). In a wonky way, I also wonder exactly what Zinke means by “co-management,” but agree that it’s an idea worth exploring.

In this more detailed story, by Amy Joi O’Donoghue for the Deseret News, you can see some of the complexities and controversy that may be missing from the AP story.

Many Utah Navajo are against a monument designation for Bears Ears, but the out-of-state tribal leaders behind the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition who support it insist the effort is one that is locally driven, locally supported and grass-roots in nature.

I’d also add that members of this blog community with direct experience have also said that there are Tribes and people in Tribes who have different ideas about the Monument. So it seems as if once again, in the interests of space (?), real-world complexities have been shaded to fit a simpler, and less accurate, narrative in the national press story.

2 Comments

  1. “I’d also add that members of this blog community with direct experience have also said that there are Tribes and people in Tribes who have different ideas about the Monument. So it seems as if once again, in the interests of space (?), real-world complexities have been shaded to fit a simpler, and less accurate, narrative in the national press story.”

    Ok, perhaps so. But then shouldn’t the reporter have called and interviewed registered Utah Republicans who support the Bears Ears Monument designation as it currently stands? After all, there may be many Republicans within the Republican Party who support Bears Ears.

  2. The concept of “co-management” may have application on other federal lands. Think about empowering the National Forests’ Resource Advisory Committees, which represent all concerned interests, to not only advise but also to “consent” (or not consent). This shared stewardship authority should remove the pressure to transfer federal lands to states or trusts while encouraging (requiring) the forests to respond to local needs and local conditions.

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