The Cortez City Council voted 6 to 1 Monday to send a letter supporting Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which lies just west of the city.
The letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke comes during a national public-comment period on a review of more than two dozen national monuments created under the Antiquities Act over the past 21 years. On Monday, Zinke recommended downsizing the Bears Ears monument in Southeast Utah, designated by President Obama in 2016. The council’s letter urges the secretary to keep the164,000-acre Canyons of the Ancients monument intact without any changes. The lone dissenting vote came from councilmember Tim Miller, who called the letter “political” and said that he was “against being against the review.” Other councilors and some audience members noted that the letter did not take issue with the review itself, but Miller also said the council should not comment because “there are no national monuments in the city of Cortez.” He did, however, say he supports parks and the Antiquities Act. A number of members of the public had come to recent council meetings to urge support for the monument, which draws about 30,000 visitors a year and was proclaimed by President Clinton in 2000. Public comments on the monuments under review are being taken on the Interior Department’s website through July 10th.