Bears Ears Archives - Page 9 of 11


  • September 22nd, 2016

    Today, the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee “marked up” Rep. Rob Bishop’s terrible Public Lands Initiative (PLI)—the bill that seeks to roll back federal land protections, unleash a fossil fuel bonanza, and give away lands belonging to all Americans to the State of Utah.  As if that isn’t reckless enough, the bill fails to protect even half of the region’s deserving wilderness and it utterly fails to respect the efforts of five united Native American tribes to secure meaningful protection for the Bears Ears region—a landscape rich in cultural and natural wonders.

    A “mark up” is a congressional procedure in which members are supposed to take the information they learn from witnesses at a hearing and apply that information by attempting to improve the bill through amendments. Several wilderness champions in the House did just that, offering amendments that would spruce up the PLI and at least bring it into accordance with the Wilderness Act, the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and several other federal laws that are undermined by Bishop’s bill. Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) all offered up commonsense amendments to repair just some of the bill’s significant environmental flaws, and argued admirably against the bill’s harmful provisions. It was apparent that they listened to the testimonies and worked to fix the bill accordingly.

    If any of them are your Representatives, please call their offices and thank them for fighting the PLI today! The Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121. You can also watch the debate here.

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    Rep. Bishop, for his part, ignored last week’s testimony by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management opposing the bill, ignored the testimony of Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, a member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (also opposing the bill), and continued to ignore the voices of other tribes, conservationists, and the more that 300 million Americans that own the public lands in question.

    In fact, the only amendment Rep. Bishop offered to his bill was one for technical changes—fixing typos, grammatical errors and the like. It was the only amendment of the day that passed, and in Rep. Bishop’s hopelessly stacked committee, the bill eventually passed too, on a party line vote.

    But don’t worry. From here on out, the Public Lands Initiative has no chance.

    As pointed out by Reps. Grijalva, Tsongas, and Lowenthal, the bill simply will not advance in the Senate. It contains too many poison pills, too many egregious violations of bedrock environmental law, too little wilderness, and too little compromise for that body to approve. But let’s say, just for argument, that it did pass the Senate. What president is going to sign into law a bill that was opposed by multiple agencies within his or her own administration? Do you think President Obama, who has protected more public lands in his time in the Oval Office than any of his predecessors, would sign into law the PLI, which imperils millions of acres of deserving wilderness?

    The simple answer is no. He wouldn’t do that. So the PLI is doomed, dead, failed. And it’s too bad, because we spent precious years working on it in earnest before it became obvious the bill would go nowhere good.

    Now the focus must turn to what still is achievable: protecting the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument that has been requested by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Throughout the PLI discussions, it has often been said by the Utah delegation that everyone agrees the Bears Ears region deserves protection. And we certainly do. Now that it’s clear the PLI cannot do the job, President Obama should step in. Click here to send a message asking him to Protect Bears Ears now!

  • July 27th, 2016

    In response to Senator Mike Lee’s “field hearing” in Blanding today to discuss the Public Lands Initiative (PLI) and “the potential impacts of large-scale monument designations,” Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) Executive Director Scott Groene released the following statement:

    Read More »
  • 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!

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