- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Latest on Utah lawmakers’ opposition to a proposal to designate a new national monument in the state (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Utah’s Republican-controlled Legislature has approved a resolution declaring opposition to a possible national monument in the Bears Ears area of southeastern Utah.

The House and Senate passed the purely symbolic measure Wednesday evening while they were meeting in a special session to restore funds cut from some education programs.

Republican officials and local leaders worry President Barack Obama will use his authority under a 1906 law to protect the 1.9 million-acre area.

Some American Indian tribes and conservationists say the area is threatened by off-road vehicles and looting.

Obama has not said if he’ll declare the monument but Utah officials worry it’s a foregone conclusion.

The resolution now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert, who is expected to sign it.

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6:40 p.m.

Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio is urging support for a proposal to designate a new national monument in the Bears Ears area of southeastern Utah.

In posts on Facebook and Instagram, DiCaprio urged people to sign an online petition urging President Barack Obama to declare the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument.

The actor’s posts Tuesday night came on the eve of a special legislative session where Utah lawmakers were expected to pass a resolution trumpeting their opposition to the monument.

Republican lawmakers and local officials said Wednesday that a monument declaration would close the area off to development and block American Indian tribal elders from using the land for cultural reasons.

A coalition of American Indian tribes and conservation groups say the protection is needed to stave off damage from off-road vehicles and looting.

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4:35 p.m.

Representatives from several American Indian tribes say they’re united in wanting to see President Barack Obama declare a new national monument in the Bears Ears area of southeastern Utah.

Mark Maryboy of the Utah Diné Bikéyah, a five-tribe group pushing for preservation, held up letters from the Navajo Nation, Hopi and other tribes showing their united call for a monument during a rally at Utah’s Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

The rally occurred about an hour before Utah lawmakers met in a special session to pass a resolution decrying the proposed monument and restore cut funds to several education programs.

Republican officials and local leaders worry Obama will use his authority under a 1906 law to protect the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears area.

Proponents say the area is threatened by off-road vehicles and looting.

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11 a.m.

Utah lawmakers meeting in a special session late Wednesday afternoon will pass a resolution trumpeting their opposition to a possible national monument in the Bears Ears area of southeastern Utah.

Republican officials and local leaders worry President Barack Obama will use his authority under a 1906 law to protect the 1.9 million-acre area as requested by some American Indian tribes and conservationists. They say the area is threatened by off-road vehicles and looting.

Gov. Gary Herbert, state lawmakers and other Utah officials say that if the area is declared a monument, it will be closed off to development and even block tribal elders from using the land for cultural reasons.

The resolution lawmakers are expected to pass Wednesday is purely symbolic but marks the state’s latest in a string of declarations that rail against the idea.

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