Bears Ears National Monument

The BLM is now accepting scoping comments on the Bears Ears management plan! Click here to take action.

© Tim Peterson

Submit Your Planning Comments by October 31!

Fallen Roof Ruin, Bears Ears National Monument, Utah.

With Bears Ears National Monument now restored to its original boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun 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. Scoping comments are due by October 31st. Please tell the BLM what issues you want them to consider as they develop a draft management plan (see suggested points below). (Photo © Jeff Foott)

Click here to submit comments

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. 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.”

Click here for additional, expanded talking points,

The First Truly Native American National Monument

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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.