Utah lawmakers to rally against potential national monuments

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Two Utah lawmakers hope to stop the federal government from turning two Utah sites into national monuments. They've organized a public rally against the move.

Earlier this week, the Department of the Interior listed several areas that could receive designations as national monuments, including the San Rafael Swell in Emory County and Cedar Mesa region in San Juan County.

A department spokeswoman said officials were only brainstorming. But some Utah lawmakers say the federal government is really trying to take land from the state without any public input.

It's a slap in the face to the citizens of Utah.

–Rep. Michael Noel

"It's a slap in the face to the citizens of Utah," says Rep. Michael Noel, R-Kanab. "It's a slap in the face to the policymakers. It's a slap in the face to all of us that put input into resource management plans to be able to have a say in how the public lands in Utah are developed."

Noel is joining forces with Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, to hold a rally to protest the creation of any new monuments in Utah. They say now is the time to protect the state and reduce the control of the federal government.

The rally is set for Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda. Protesters will support Sen. Bob Bennett's proposal to take Utah out of the 1906 Antiquities Act.

More than 600 people attended a Take Back Utah rally at last year's legislative session. A summer rally drew 3,500.

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