In April President Trump instructed the Department of the Interior to review Bears Ears' national monument designation. On Aug 24th, according to a leaked copy of his report, Secretary Zinke recommended erasing protections: shrinking the monument by as much as 1 million acres and allowing mining, logging and drilling in currently protected areas.
Established: December 28, 2016
What is Bears Ears Known For?"Abundant rock art, ancient cliff dwellings, ceremonial sites, and countless other artifacts provide an extraordinary archaeological and cultural record that is important to us all, but most notably the land is profoundly sacred to many Native American tribes, including the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah Ouray, Hopi Nation, and Zuni Tribe. …. The area's stunning geology, from sharp pinnacles to broad mesas, labyrinthine canyons to solitary hoodoos, and verdant hanging gardens to bare stone arches and natural bridges, provides vital insights to geologists. In the east, the Abajo Mountains tower, reaching elevations of more than 11,000 feet. A long geologic history is documented in the colorful rock layers visible in the area's canyons." (Proclamation)
Why is Bears Ears Threatened?
- Looting and vandalism: "Bears Ears has been looted and vandalized over a number of decades. There are legal trails for off-road vehicle use. However, over the years "irresponsible off-road vehicle use" has damaged "both the natural landscape" and our archaeological sites. From May 2014 to April 2015 alone, over a "dozen serious looting cases were reported" including "small-scale theft to ancestral remains being tossed around when graves are plundered."
- Oil and gas development: "Farmers, ranchers, and the oil and gas industry have urged the Utah congressional delegation to push for a rollback of the protected areas so they could have access to the land for development." This year, the oil and gas industry has proposed fracking in 57,000 acres of public lands -- right next to Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
What can we do?We can challenge President Trump and Secretary Zinke's unprecedented move to potentially ERASE protections for Bears Ears. The legal case against the president is strong -- the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 affirmed that only Congress has the authority to modify national monuments. But in addition to lawsuits we need the Senators from Utah to do all they can to make sure Bears Ears protections remain in place.
Both Sens. Hatch and Lee are on record as opposing Bears Ears. We need to remind them of how important it is to protect it.