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Interior secretary steps into Utah public lands tug-of-war | National News

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — For decades, a public lands tug-of-war has played out over a vast expanse of southern Utah where red rocks reveal petroglyphs and cliff dwellings and distinctive twin buttes bulge from a grassy valley.

A string of U.S. officials has heard from those who advocate for broadening national monuments to protect the area’s many archaeological and cultural sites, considered sacred to surrounding tribes, and those who fiercely oppose what they see as federal overreach.

On Thursday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was the latest cabinet official to visit Bears Ears National Monument — and the first Indigenous one.

Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, met with tribes and elected officials at Bears Ears as she prepares to submit recommendations on whether to reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to downsize that site and Grand Staircase-Escalante, another Utah national monument.

“I know that decisions about public

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