Zinke says monument designations have been an ‘effective tool,’ Hatch is confused

As he embarked on a tour of Utah to review two national monuments, Ryan Zinke said he sees no evidence Native American proponents of Bears Ears National Monument were exploited by special interest groups, as state leaders have suggested.

“I think they’re smart, capable, passionate, and have a deep sense of tie to their culture and want to preserve it,” the secretary of the Interior said after a meeting with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which requested the monument on behalf of five tribes, at Salt Lake City’s Bureau of Land Management office.

Minutes later, while standing with Zinke, Sen. Orrin Hatch said Native Americans are “manipulated sometimes by people” and that the “far left” has further designs on the 1.35 million acres in southeastern Utah protected by President Barack Obama on Dec. 28, 2016.

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

Asked to describe which activities Obama’s designation would prevent Native Americans from doing, Hatch said, “That’d take too much time right now.”

Pressed further for one example, Hatch said: “Once you put a monument there, you do restrict a lot of things that could be done, and that includes use of the land … Just take my word for it.”

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