Former U.S. Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt publicly expressed his support for the Inter-Tribal Coalition’s call for a Bears Ears National Monument and for an increased role for Tribes in the protection of sacred sites and access to places of ceremonial importance.

In his On January 21, op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Babbitt recognized the connection between the Tribes and these lands, quoting Ute tribal member, Malcolm Lehi’s comment that, “We can still hear the songs and prayers of our ancestors on every mesa and in every canyon.”

The former Secretary acknowledged the years of work on behalf of the Tribes to met with local residents, state officials and the Utah congressional delegation. He went on to applaud the Coalition’s proposal, calling it a new model of national monument with managed collaborative management between the tribes and the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the National Park Service. He concluded by calling on President Obama to “request and consider responses and suggestions from all sides on the tribes’ national monument proposal.”

Click here to read Secretary Babbitt’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.