Take Action: Have a Say in the Future of Bears Ears National Monument
The Bureau of Land Management is accepting preliminary input (known as “scoping comments”) on how to manage the recently restored Bears Ears National Monument. This is your chance to shape the future of this remarkable landscape for decades to come. Click here for more information and to submit comments by the October 31st deadline.
With Bears Ears National Monument now restored to its original boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking preliminary input (known as “scoping comments”) on how to manage the recently restored monument.
This is a once-in-a generation opportunity to ensure that the monument is managed for its unique and extraordinary values, and in collaboration with the Five Tribes of the Bears Ears Commission. As part of the collaborative planning process, the five Tribes developed A Collaborative Land Management Plan for the Bears Ears National Monument, which “synthesizes Tribal perspectives for the management of the Bears Ears living landscape.”
You can participate by attending meetings online or in-person, and by submitting your comments here.
Virtual and in-person public meetings are scheduled as follows (all times are Mountain Daylight Time):
- Sept. 28, 2022, from 6–8 p.m. at the Utah State University Blanding Arts and Event Center – 576 W 200 S, Blanding, Utah, 84511
- Oct. 5, 2022, from 6:00–7:30 pm, online. Register here: https://bit.ly/3pVgJqy
- Oct. 12, 2022, from 6–8 pm at the Marriott Albuquerque, 2101 Louisiana Blvd NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Here are some suggested points to emphasize as you draft your personalized comments. While preparing the new management plan for Bears Ears National Monument, tell the BLM and the Forest Service that they should:
- Manage identified lands with wilderness characteristics for protection of wilderness values to ensure lasting conservation of the objects and values identified in the Proclamation.
- Close motorized routes that are harming monument objects and values, including springs and riparian areas, vegetation, soils, air quality (via dust and emissions), viewsheds, soundscapes, and cultural objects. Widespread off-road vehicle use should not be allowed, and no additional routes should be designated.
- Establish and implement measures to protect and improve the viewsheds, natural and quiet soundscapes, and visual and aesthetic settings of the monument.
- Utilize a zoning management approach to recreation and visitation, focusing any development and expansion of trails and facilities in the frontcountry while protecting sensitive backcountry areas; limit group sizes for Special Recreation Permits; require permits for backcountry camping; and promote a “leave no trace” philosophy.
- Prohibit mechanical treatments (i.e., removal) of sagebrush, pinyon pine, juniper, and other vegetation, and use only native species for restoration and post-fire seeding.
- Significantly reduce or eliminate livestock use where livestock grazing is harming monument objects and values.
- Establish a proactive process for the Tribal Nations to collaboratively manage BENM with Federal land managers, including incorporating Indigenous knowledge and Native ways of knowing in the management plan and creating a full-time collaborative Tribal Management staff to participate in collaborative management with the agencies.
Bears Ears: America’s First Truly Native American National Monument
When President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate Bears Ears National Monument on December 28th, 2016, he granted a new layer of protection to some of the most spectacular places in southern Utah. There is of course Cedar Mesa, with its incredible canyons running toward the San Juan River. There is White Canyon to the west of Natural Bridges. There are the Bears Ears themselves and the high ponderosa forests of Elk Ridge. To the north there’s Beef Basin and Indian Creek. The new monument withdrew Lockhart Basin, adjacent to Canyonlands National Park, from future energy leasing. Nearly 100,000 archaeological and cultural sites were covered by the proclamation, including House on Fire and Moon House ruins.
Equally important, the proclamation elevated the voices of the Native American tribes who have ancestral ties to the region. The Bears Ears proposal was led by five Tribes—the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, and Ute Indian Tribes. For the first time in American history, these Tribes would have a greater say in the management of these culturally important lands.
On December 4, 2017, President Trump ignored millions of public comments and repealed Bears Ears National Monument, replacing it with two much smaller, non-contiguous units totaling less than 230,000 acres (an 83% reduction). The unprecedented act left rare archaeological sites and stunning wildlands without protection from looting, prospecting, oil and gas drilling, uranium mining, or off-road vehicle damage.
Thankfully, four years later, on October 8th, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation restoring Bears Ears National Monument to its full, original boundaries—plus the additional 12,000 acres previously added to the Trump-era Indian Creek unit.