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Interior Secretary Zinke begins 4-day 'listening tour' of Bears Ears

Interior Secretary Zinke begins 4-day “listening tour” of Bears Ears. (Photo: KUTV)
Interior Secretary Zinke begins 4-day “listening tour” of Bears Ears. (Photo: KUTV)
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(KUTV) Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, began his four day listening tour of Bears Ears Sunday at the Bureau of Land Management Office in Salt Lake City. Under direction from President Trump’s Executive Order, Zinke has 45 days to prepare a recommendation for the fate of Bears Ears as a national monument.

"I'm here to get acquainted with the issue,” said Zinke. "I like going to the front lines and actually talking to people."

Under Trump's Executive Order, Zinke will review nearly 30 national monuments -- 100,000 acres or more designated since 1996.

"It may not be a rescinding. It may not be an addition. But it's going to be a recommendation based on the complexity of it," Zinke said.

No president has ever flat out rescinded a national monument designation, but Utah leaders believe some change is in store for Bears Ears.

“I have a feeling it's going to be a combination of things, in the end," said Senator Orrin Hatch.

Zinke planned to talk with locals, leaders, and natives to find out what's important to them and how the government can protect the land while allowing access to important resources.

"The Indians, they don't understand that a lot of the things they currently take for granted on those lands, they won't be able to do, if it's made clearly into a monument," said Hatch.

Before Sunday’s press conference, Zinke met with tribal leaders who supported the Bears Ears National Monument.

"The tribes are smart, sophisticated, and should have a say," he said. “There’s a lot of anger out there. There’s a lot of mistrust out there.”

Zinke will spend the next three days touring Bears Ears by foot, air, and horseback.

“Sometimes, the best way to see things is slow and easy, on a horse.”

Zinke called for a collaboration between communities.

“We are the stewards and protectors of our greatest holdings, which is our public lands. And we’re not only capable of it, we’re the model.”

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