Bears Ears Archives


  • October 26th, 2017

    A new Utah poll demonstrates, again, that while bold conservation is often controversial at inception, it becomes appreciated with time. But Utah’s politicians still haven’t learned. When significant landscapes are protected by executive orders, they pull the Chicken Little routine and shake their fists at the sky. History proves them wrong every time.

    And it’s happening all over again.

    A new Dan Jones poll shows Utahns 2-1 oppose Utah politicians’ efforts to break apart the Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument. Twenty years ago, President Clinton was hung in effigy in Escalante for establishing the monument. Today, local businesses there and in Boulder are pleading with the Trump administration to leave it intact.

    Buttes along the Burr Trail, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Copyright Jeff Foott

    As we’d expect, the poll shows less support for the nascent Bears Ears National Monument. This is probably due to the steady outpouring of flagrantly false claims made by Senator Hatch, Representative Bishop and others that the monument will somehow devastate local economies and harm school kids. Still, only half of Utahns have bought into the lies so far as to favor reducing the monument.

    Given time, the majority of Utahns will solidly celebrate Bears Ears as they do the Grand Staircase.

    And of course, these lands belong to all Americans, not just those of us living here in Utah.

    Bears Ears Buttes in Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Jeff Foott

    These protections are good for America. There is no serious argument that we’d be better off today if the Grand Staircase-Escalante had been sacrificed to a coal mine—especially as the view from the Kaiparowits Plateau (where the coal diggers wanted to dig) already includes the 800-foot-tall smokestacks at the Navajo Generating Station, set to close in two years because burning coal is no longer economic.

    President Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument for the Tribes who have lived and used these lands since time immemorial, and it will be a great injustice if it is undone. Utah politicians will go down as standing far on the wrong side of history.

    Every time Americans have chosen to protect western landscapes, the decision has been recognized as wise, with the perspective of time, by citizens living both far from and near the affected lands. This week’s poll confirms that, again. Will Utah’s politicians ever learn?

  • October 19th, 2017

    A band of badgers confronted Utah state officials today about their efforts to turn federal public lands over to the state of Utah to own or manage.  “How can we trust the state with our public lands when they assert that badgers loot artifacts and deny that human driven climate change is damaging the health of our public lands and forests?” asked the badgers. “The answer is that we can’t.”

    A band of badgers confronts state officials at the Utah Legislature’s Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands meeting.

    The badgers were referring to state legislator Mike Noel’s claim last year that badgers were to blame for digging up artifacts in the Bears Ears area. Noel asserted that “those little suckers are going down and digging up artifacts and sticking them in their holes.”

    Spokesperson Badger John cleared the name of badgers: “This is a falsehood.  Badgers do not loot archaeological sites, people do.”

    Badger John makes a statement at the commission meeting.

    The badgers also criticized the state for denying the deleterious effects of climate change on public lands and forests, pointing out that human-driven climate change is having real, measurable impacts every day that range from hotter, more intense wildfires to prolonged drought and multiple thousand-year storm events occurring over just a few years. “But the legislature and this commission refuse to recognize these indisputable truths,” lamented Badger John.

    Several commissioners said they cared about badgers, but continued to insist that federal public lands in Utah would be better managed by the state. The badgers wholeheartedly rejected that claim. Calling upon history, they noted that it was the failure of states to adequately steward America’s public lands that led to higher national standards in the first place.

    “When this commission asks people for trust while simultaneously spreading falsehoods and denying widely accepted science, it earns the mistrust of people and badgers everywhere,” they said.  “Leave Utah’s federal lands in America’s public hands.”

    The badgers traveled from their burrows in southern Utah to the State Capitol for the meeting of  the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands—a misnamed commission seeking ways to advance the transfer of federal lands to the state of Utah.

    SUWA is pleased to have badgers as allies in our fight to protect our public wild lands!

     

     

  • October 12th, 2017

    The House Natural Resources Committee has advanced H.R. 3990, a disgraceful bill that would essentially gut the Antiquities Act. The full committee mark-up also effectively killed a Democratic request for more transparency in Zinke’s monument review process.

    H.R. 3990, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), would so severely limit a president’s power to designate new monuments that had it been in the original language of the law, Utah would not have four of its five national parks and seven of its eight national monuments today—places like Arches, Zion, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears. It would limit the size of new monuments to 85,000 acres and require approval from local and state lawmakers and governors. A president would still be able to designate a monument in an emergency situation, but the designation would expire within a year without congressional action.

    Monument sign at Cottonnwood Road, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Copyright Jeff Foott

    Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), lead sponsor of the House version of the Red Rock bill, called HR 3990 a “blatant attempt to dismantle the Antiquities Act.” He spoke of the direct threat this bill poses to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, and to all of Utah’s red rock country: “The stunning red rock canyons, protected by the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments . . . all of these natural features would be threatened by this bill.”

    Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Judith Zimmerman

    Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) noted: “There is something good about this bill, and that is that it points out that the president has no authority to unilaterally shrink or undesignate a national monument under current law. This admission is useful because the president may soon try to invoke that nonexistent power to the lasting detriment of our country.”

    The bill passed out of committee on party lines, 23-17.

    The champions standing up for the Antiquites Act and our public lands who voted against this terrible bill were:
    Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-CNMI), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA)

    If your member of Congress is listed above, please call them and thank them at 202-224-3121

    Conversely, the members of Congress who voted to gut the Antiquities Act are:
    Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep Scott Tipton (R-CO), Rep Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Amata Radewagen (R-AS), Rep. Darin LaHood (R- IL), Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI), Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT)

    If your member of Congress is listed above, please call them and register your disappointment at 202-224-3121.

    After the vote on HR 3990, H. Res. 555 was submitted to the mark up. H. Res. 555, introduced by Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) and 25 other House Democrats, was an attempt to force a formal disclosure of Secretary Zinke’s monument review and gain transparency on the process of its creation. This resolution of inquiry, introduced a week ago, is likely what prompted the Antiquities Act overhaul to be unveiled.

    The resolution was passed out of committee, but was reported “unfavorably,” effectively killing the measure.

    This bill is a disaster, but just because it passed out of the committee doesn’t mean it will become law. To help us make sure it doesn’t, please call your representatives and let them know you oppose H.R. 3990 and any similar effort to gut the Antiquities Act! 202-224-3121

  • October 4th, 2017

    Once again the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is poised to auction off outstanding federal public lands in redrock country for fossil fuel development. The latest ill-conceived proposal targets some of the most culturally significant and dramatic lands in southeastern Utah, threatening the region’s air quality, cultural resources, dark night skies, wilderness-caliber landscapes, and even national monuments—including Bears Ears.

    Tell the BLM this outrageous proposal to lease and develop public lands is completely unacceptable.

    Tin Cup Mesa. Copyright Neal Clark/SUWA

    Not only is this lease sale terribly misguided, it’s also totally unnecessary. At the end of the BLM’s 2016 fiscal year, about 1.1 million acres of BLM managed lands in Utah were in production out of approximately 2.9 million acres leased to oil and gas operators—that’s less than forty percent of the total land under lease. Given the current surplus of oil and gas leases in Utah, there is simply no need to open up more public land to fossil fuel development, particularly in sensitive and wild places.

    Click here to tell the BLM not to auction off our natural and cultural heritage to the fossil fuel industry.

    Specifically, the BLM is proposing to lease for oil and gas development:

    •    Parcels located in the Goldbar Canyon, Hatch Point/ Hatch Canyon, and Labyrinth Canyon proposed wilderness areas in Grand County and the Cross Canyon, Monument Canyon, and Tin Cup Mesa proposed wilderness areas in San Juan County.

    •    Parcels in the Alkali Ridge Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), designated for its impressive density of cultural and archaeological sites. The BLM itself has recognized that the area contains “[l]arge pueblos with complex architecture and connecting prehistoric roads” and calls it “one of the best-known and influential examples of scientific archeological investigation in the southwestern U.S.”

    Under the Trump administration, the BLM is rushing to sacrifice the most outstanding and significant public lands—lands that belong to each and every one of us—for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry. If we don’t act, we stand to lose something truly irreplaceable.

    Please stand up for your public lands by submitting comments to the BLM by October 23rd!

    Thank you for taking action.

    >> Click here to view a map of lease parcel locations

    >> Click here to see more photos of lands affected by this lease sale

  • September 21st, 2017

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) this afternoon released an environmental study in support of its proposal to offer 46 leases (encompassing approximately 57,000 acres) for oil and gas development on federal public land in southeastern Utah.

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