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President Nez vetoes resolution to fully reopen Navajo parks, wants to open at 50 percent capacity


President Nez hopes to gradually re-open the Navajo Nation

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation president has vetoed a bill from the tribal council which sought to fully reopen parks and recreation areas managed by the tribe.

The action comes as President Jonathan Nez seeks to reopen parks at half capacity, requesting a council special session to help pursue a new public health order.

The Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President issued a press release on the afternoon of June 18 after vetoing Resolution CJN-33-21.

The council had unanimously voted in favor of the resolution during a June 3 special session.

The resolution focused on reopening a number of parks and recreation areas managed by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department.

Those places included the Navajo Nation Museum, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park and Four Corners Monument.

That resolution also reopened roads maintained and owned by the tribe along with all lakes under the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, depending on staffing and funding.

In a June 18 letter to Speaker Seth Damon regarding the veto, President Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer wrote that one major concern for fully reopening was the inability to gather health information from tourists descending upon tribal parks.

“If we allow visitors into our Nation at 100-percent, we don’t know where they are coming from and if they are fully vaccinated, but our mask mandate will help to keep people safe,” the press release said.

Nez and Lizer believe the safest way to “reopen” is to allow a gradual re-opening of the Nation, to protect residents while trying to find a semblance of normalcy, the letter states.

The tribal president and vice president urged a special council session to consider rescinding Resolution CMA-16-20. It was approved in March 2020 and closed all tribal roads to visitors and tourists.

The repeal of CMA-16-20 will allow a new public health emergency order to be issued from the tribal health department to reopen Navajo Nation parks at 50 percent capacity.

Even if the council voted to override Nez’s veto on CJN-33-21, the tribal parks department can't unilaterally decide to reopen.

The reopening requires approval of the tribal health department and the office of the president and vice president, parks department Manager Martin Begaye previously told The Daily Times.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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More: Navajo Nation Council supports fully reopening parks, recreation areas and lakes