Issues

Bears Ears National Monument

When Presidents Obama and Biden established and then restored Bears Ears National Monument using the Antiquities Act, they granted a new layer of protection to some of the most spectacular places in southern Utah. Equally important, the proclamation elevated the voices of the Native American tribes who have ancestral ties to the region. This unique and extraordinary monument is now a celebrated national treasure.

© Tim Peterson

New Planning Process Underway

Fallen Roof Ruin, Bears Ears National Monument, Utah.

With Bears Ears National Monument restored to its original boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in the process of developing a new management plan for the 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. (Photo © Jeff Foott)

See below for updated information on how to get involved.

Bears Ears Draft Plan Released, Public Comments due June 11

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service released a draft management plan for Bears Ears National Monument, which contains several possible management alternatives. In addition to guiding how the Monument is managed, the Plan will also address how the agencies will incorporate Traditional Indigenous Knowledge into decision-making in order to best protect and restore the Monument’s irreplaceable natural and cultural resources and values.

Alternative E is both the Bears Ears Commission’s and agencies’ preferred alternative. Please take action by Tuesday, June 11 and call for an improved Alternative E to ensure the Monument is managed to conserve this spectacular, sacred landscape. 


The First Truly Native American National Monument

Click to view larger map.

Bears Ears National Monument is a region of extraordinary natural diversity and cultural significance. 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.

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. Equally important, the proclamation elevated the voices of the Native American tribes who have ancestral ties to the region.

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.

The original Bears Ears proposal was led by the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, and Ute Indian Tribes. When President Obama established the monument in 2016, these Tribes would have a greater say in the management of these culturally important lands for the first time in American history. As part of the collaborative planning process, the five Tribes of the Bears Ears Commission 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.” 

Repeal and Restoration

In December of 2017, one year after its establishment, 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, 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.