Utah is home to more than 34 million acres of federal lands, including various national parks and monuments — so maybe it’s no wonder everyone seems to mix them up when it comes time to post a photograph of Bears Ears National Monument.
The Interior Department topped its Monday announcement that Secretary Ryan Zinke will recommend significant reductions to the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears monument with a striking photo of the former Montana lawmaker looking over a vista of rocky, red hills.
But according to Interior’s public account on photo sharing site Flickr, the image actually belongs to a collection of photos from Zinke’s recent visit to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The discrepancy was first reported by NPR’s Utah station KUER.
The Interior Department did not immediately return a request for comment. Zinke is in the midst of a tour of New England states and is scheduled to visit the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument today.
The photographic mix-up is only the latest in a string of errors identifying the Bears Ears monument.
President Obama took flak in December when his administration tweeted out a photo of Arches National Park when he designated Bears Ears (Greenwire, Jan. 24).
At the time, Utah Republican lawmakers including Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Mike Lee slammed Obama on social media.
"Classic. @WhiteHouse pic is Arches not monuments. Couldn’t find a pic of Bears Ears & doesn’t even know where it is. #WorstPresidentEver," Chaffetz wrote in late December.
Similarly, in a video at the time, Lee compared Obama’s error to President Clinton’s decision to designate the Grand Staircase monument at a ceremony in Arizona.
"Look at this picture," Lee said. "That’s not the Bears Ears area. … We should be particularly disturbed by the fact that the same people who made this decision, the same people who decided to declare this national monument, apparently don’t know the difference between the Bears Ears area, on the one hand, and Arches National Park."
E&E News has likewise made errors in identifying national monuments in Utah. In early May, this publication used a photo of Bears Ears instead of an image of the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument.