January 6, 2017
School & Institutional Trust Lands Administration
675 East 500 South, Suite 500 Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
Dear Board of Trustees,
The Stewards of San Juan is a recognized Community Organization vested with the responsibility of reviewing and taking actions on matters of local concern that are in the best interest of the health, safety, and welfare of San Juan County residents. This organization is tasked by the community to use a balanced and inclusive approach to advocate for the values, resources, opportunities, culture, and lifestyle of San Juan County. We are writing to you today to express our opposition to the recent 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County as designated by President Obama. As you know, approximately 109,000 acres of state school trust lands fall within the boundaries of this new monument. We are concerned about the following statement, taken directly from the proclamation:
“To further the protective purposes of the monument, the Secretary of the Interior shall explore entering into a memorandum of understanding with the State that would set forth terms, pursuant to applicable laws and regulations, for an exchange of land currently owned by the State of Utah and administered by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration within the boundary of the monument for land of approximately equal value managed by the BLM outside the boundary of the monument. The Secretary of the Interior shall report to the President by January 19, 2017, regarding the potential for such an exchange.”
The Stewards of San Juan stand with our elected city, county, and state officials, as well as two local Native American tribes who will be asking the incoming Administration to overturn this designation. That is why it is extremely important to us that no land exchange negotiations take place between now and January 19th, as requested in the proclamation. Once transactions begin taking place, it will be that much more difficult for a monument to be repealed. We ask that you halt any discussion regarding transactions and land exchanges until President-Elect Trump can take office. For President Obama to ask that the Secretary of the Interior deliver a memorandum of understanding regarding the potential for these land exchanges by one day before he leaves office is more than just illogical, it is sabotage and an affront to the school children and teachers of Utah. We understand and appreciate that SITLA reports to the state of Utah and we hope that your Board of Trustees stands firm against the federal government, and continues to administer these trust lands prudently and profitably for Utah’s schoolchildren and other trust beneficiaries. Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter.
Sincerely, Jami Bayles, President Stewards of San Juan County firstname.lastname@example.org