By: Taylor Stevens
A group of 21 mayors and council members from around Utah have signed onto briefs with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in support of lawsuits filed against President Donald Trump’s shrinking of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
The amicus friend-of-the-court briefs — filed Monday and drafted by the Harvard Law School’s Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic and the Salt Lake City Attorney’s Office — contend that the process was flawed, with little input from local voices, and that the boundary reduction will have detrimental economic and environmental effects in the state.
“When the Trump administration began its review of Bears Ears and Escalante, many of us knew it was only a matter of time before these monuments were reduced and harm would come to our local economies,” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who signed onto the briefs, said in a news release.
The state’s perceived antagonism toward public lands, including designation of the Bears Ears National Monument, resulted in the departure of the Outdoor Retailer convention, which Biskupski said caused immediate economic harm to Salt Lake City through the loss of $45 million dollars in tourist spending. But she said the “truly devastating” part of the decision is its effect on gateway communities and the state’s reputation as friendly to the outdoors.
That’s “why we are filing these briefs,” she wrote, “to give everyone a voice in a decision which has consequences for every community.”
Five of the seven members of the Salt Lake City Council, as well as Salt Lake County Council members Jim Bradley, Arlyn Bradshaw, Jenny Wilson and Ann Granato, all Democrats, also signed on. So did members of the Summit County Council and Alta town council. The mayor of Boulder supported the Grand Staircase brief, while the mayor of Bluff endorsed the Bears Ears one.