San Juan County drops out of Bears Ears lawsuit

SALT LAKE CITY — San Juan County leaders have dropped out of a lawsuit over President Trump’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument.

In a new court filing, the county gave notice it would no longer side with the president in the ongoing litigation filed by tribal groups.

“At the time San Juan moved for intervention, the County Commission supported the intervention. Following the recent election of a new County Commission in San Juan County, the County Commission no longer supports San Juan’s involvement in this litigation. Upon full consideration San Juan now seeks withdrawal from this lawsuit,” the filing states.

No attorneys objected, the filing pointed out.

A number of Native American tribes are suing President Trump over his decision to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument in 2017, designated by President Obama. San Juan County’s commission filed a motion to intervene, siding with President Trump.

But in the last election, the county commission saw a major change. A federal judge ordered a special election after finding racial gerrymandering in commission and school board boundaries. The judge had ruled that Native Americans, a majority in population in San Juan County, were minorities in political representation.

The election led to a Native American and Democrat-majority commission that has now withdrawn from the lawsuit.

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