Bears Ears Archives - Page 13 of 15


  • July 18th, 2016

    A huge crowd of more than 1,400 people poured into the tiny southeastern Utah town of Bluff on Saturday to attend a public meeting hosted by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on the proposed Bears Ears National Monument.

    Volunteers handed out 1,000 Protect Bears Ears t-shirts to enthusiastic citizens flooding into the meeting grounds before running out. The overwhelming support for a monument was clearly visible by the broad swaths of people wearing light blue t-shirts, which dominated the audience.

    Crowd Lined Up at Bears Ears Hearing in Bluff

    Over 1,000 people, many wearing blue “Protect Bears Ears” t-shirts, lined up outside the Bluff Community Center. Photo credit: Johanna Lombard

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    Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

    The crowd included Native Americans and others from the Four Corners region and beyond. New and long-time activists alike swarmed to Bluff to stand in support of the tribal proposal to protect Bears Ears as a co-managed national monument.

    In cloudless 100 degree heat, people packed into the 400 person community center, squeezed knee to knee on seats set up beneath an expansive shade pavilion, crammed into shifting pockets of shade or simply stood for hours in the sun.

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    Bears Ears supporters crowded into the outdoor overflow pavilion. Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

    For three and a half hours, Interior Secretary Jewell and a panel of other high-ranking Obama administration officials listened attentively as person after person spoke passionately about the future of the Bears Ears region.

    Top leaders of the Navajo, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni and Ute Tribes made powerful statements about the need for a monument proclamation to protect their ancestral homelands from looting and other destructive activities. Navajo President Russell Begaye called the Bears Ears area a “place of healing and spirituality” and said that “Navajos relate to the Bears Ears area as other people relate to their relatives,” and through these relationships facilitate healing.

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    Navajo President Russell Begaye addresses the crowd inside the Bluff Community Center, calling the Bears Ears area a “place of healing and spirituality.” Photo credit: Anna Brady

    Tribal leaders emphasized that co-management authority offers a rich opportunity to bring together the wisdom of traditional Native American knowledge with western science.

    Tribal leaders also stressed that the Public Lands Initiative still fails to address their concerns, and that the process failed to incorporate their voices. Malcolm Lehi, Ute Mountain Ute Councilman, said, “For far too long, native people have not been at the table. We are not invited to the table. So we are here today inviting our own selves to the table.”

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    Standing room only inside the Bluff Community Center. Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

    Others speaking in support of monument proclamation and against the PLI included several Utah elected officials, professional archaeologists, rock climbers, local business people, and both long-time residents and visitors to southeastern Utah.

    One archaeologist described how “it’s like a giant vacuum cleaner came and sucked up the artifacts,” saying the Bears Ears area “should have been proclaimed a national monument 25 years ago.”

    A local outdoor enthusiast said that “I have spent the best times of my life climbing, backpacking, hiking and camping in this region. We need a monument proclamation to keep it as it is for the future.”

    A local Bluff business owner said that “As a business person, I believe a monument will bring good to this community.”

    State legislator Joel Briscoe, who described himself as a descendent of Mormon pioneers —including one “who was part of the super-human feat of Hole in the Rock” trek (which passed through the Bears Ears area) — stressed that “we cannot understand this land if we won’t listen to the spiritual power of the land. It is my prayer that those making decisions will all listen to the spiritual power of this land.”

    Speakers also included people opposed to a monument who raised a variety of concerns about how that designation could affect their interests. But the conversation remained civil, and a common theme across almost all speakers was how much they loved the land and wanted to see it protected in some way.

    Interior Secretary Sally Jewell also spent several days before the meeting with members of the Utah delegation, visiting with local community leaders and touring sites in the Bears Ears. On Friday afternoon, she visited the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Summer Gathering at Bears Ears Meadow and met with tribal leaders.

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    Sally Jewell leaves the tepee where she met with Tribal elders at Bears Ears on Friday. Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

    SUWA thanks everyone who was able to carve out the time to make it to Bluff and stand in support of the tribes for a Bears Ears National Monument. Each individual who came – just by showing up — helped to create the amazing and impressive throng of Bears Ears supporters. This extraordinary demonstration of widespread public support is critical to encouraging the President to take action. You are all awesome!

    We also thank everyone who has weighed in on Bears Ears in all the other ways we ask you to do. Every expression of support makes a difference!

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    Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

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    Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

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    Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

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    Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

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    Photo credit: Terri Martin/SUWA

  • July 14th, 2016

    Today, Representative Rob Bishop introduced the Utah Public Lands Initiative (PLI). The proposed legislation fails to protect the imperiled cultural resources of Bears Ears, puts important natural and cultural resources at risk to rampant energy development, and undermines protection for priceless red rock Utah lands.

    Read More »
  • July 12th, 2016

    Bears Ears Crowd shotTerrific news! The Departments of Interior and Agriculture have announced that they will hold a public meeting on the proposed Bears Ears National Monument on Saturday, July 16th in Bluff, Utah.

    This is an exciting step forward in the campaign to convince President Obama to proclaim a Bears Ears National Monument.

    If you are in the region, please do whatever you can to attend the meeting in Bluff!

    Otherwise, please add your voice to the call for action on Bears Ears by sending an email to the President.

    This is a pivotal moment. It is crucial that we show a rising groundswell of support from all corners of the country over the next few months.

    You can help by joining our Online Advocacy Team. Once or twice a week, we will email you information and action items that you can share on social media. This is a powerful way to build the chorus of voices calling for presidential action on Bears Ears.

    To join, simply click here and fill out the form. 

    The Bears Ears National Monument proposal presents an extraordinary opportunity to protect one of the most scenically spectacular and archaeologically rich landscapes on the planet and to do something that’s never been done before by creating a national monument that protects Native American ancestral homelands and provides the Tribes a meaningful role in management.

    Please help #ProtectBearsEarsNow by taking action and joining our Online Advocacy Team.

    Thank you!

  • June 23rd, 2016

    Big news! This Past Saturday, as President Obama toured Yosemite to celebrate the upcoming centennial of America’s national parks, the editorial board of the New York Times endorsed the President’s use of the Antiquities Act to proclaim a Bears Ears National Monument, writing:

    A monument designation would earn Mr. Obama the admiration of conservationists and the many Indian tribes that support the idea. It would also arouse the fury of the political establishment in a state where . . . powerful interests would resent the restrictions on off-road vehicles, oil and gas drilling, and other development that the designation would bring. But so what? Mr. Obama has nothing to lose politically, and everything to gain in terms of the environmental accomplishment.

    The editorial follows up on a front page story in the Washington Post on Bears Ears, as well as the second editorial in as many months from the Salt Lake Tribune calling on the President to designate Bears Ears as a national monument.

    Click here to add your voice and ask President Obama to #ProtectBearsEarsNow!

    Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has publicly said that she will come to Utah this summer to discuss the Bears Ears proposal. That means that this is the time when it is critical that everyone who supports the tribally-led effort to protect this sacred landscape speak up and spread the word.

    Please start by sending a message to President Obama if you haven’t done so already.

    If you want to get more involved, join our Online Advocacy Team and we’ll contact you once or twice a week with sharable information and stories for social media. Your sharing on social media is critical to keeping up the drum beat and amplifing the call for President Obama to act to protect Bears Ears.

    To join, simply click here and fill out the form.

    Thank you!

  • May 16th, 2016

    Four months ago, the Utah congressional delegation released a draft of their Public Lands Initiative (PLI), a proposal for 18 million acres of eastern Utah’s public lands.

    This draft is the worst wilderness bill ever proposed by the Utah congressional delegation. It has been universally condemned by conservationists and Native American Tribes.

    The Utah politicians have since refused to discuss their proposal with us. There is no small irony in this given that the delegation insists it is “seeking” public comment on this proposal.

    As Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz blew by introduction deadlines, the PLI began to slouch from sight. One might have assumed the representatives were passively acknowledging that they had loaded this legislation with so many bad provisions it would never fly. The PLI seemed dead.

    Utah politicians then shifted their focus from the PLI to attacking a coalition of Tribes for proposing the Bears Ears National Monument (which we endorse). Their new focus has become stopping this visionary proposal.

    Now, Utah’s politicians threaten to pull the PLI from the grave in an effort to enlist it in their anti-Bears Ears efforts. Clearly, they are hoping to distract the White House from taking action on a new national monument.

    But this zombie bill will fail for the same reasons as the original proposal and it should not serve as an excuse not to protect Bears Ears now.

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    Most of White Canyon, a central part of the Bears Ears National Monument Proposal, is left out of the PLI altogether. © Scott Braden/SUWA

     

    We know that the PLI will not protect a significant number of the 5 million acres of wilderness-quality public lands in eastern Utah. In fact, it is likely to reduce already meager wilderness protections for public lands. We also know that the PLI will condemn hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands to energy zones and will further the State of Utah’s land grab by giving the State and its counties thousands of miles two-tracks, dirt trails, and cow paths as “highways” across public lands.

    And now we know that the PLI will be used as an excuse to justify Utah politicians’ refusal to work with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to protect Bears Ears.

    Any one of these elements makes the PLI nothing more than a Plundered Lands Initiative, fully deserving of reburial. Utah’s public lands simply deserve better. President Obama needs to act now to protect the Bears Ears—as requested by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition—from looting and other ongoing threats to the region.

    Please send a message to President Obama today asking him to designate a Bears Ears National Monument.

    Thank you.