Work is underway on the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments’ management plans, and public comment opportunities are just around the corner. Here’s a brief overview, and we will continue to keep you posted as planning progresses.

The proclamations that designated each monument established monument advisory committees (MACs) composed of up to 15 members representing monument values and local community interests. For the Bears Ears MAC, this includes three Tribal interest representatives, two recreation interest representatives, a representative of the conservation community, representatives with paleontological and archaeological expertise, and two public at-large representatives.

In addition, “to ensure that management decisions affecting the [Bears Ears] monument reflect the expertise and traditional and historical knowledge of interested Tribal Nations and people,” the Bears Ears proclamation re-established the Bears Ears Commission, which consists of one elected officer from each of the five Tribal Nations of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. The Commission and the land management agencies (Bureau of Land Management and forest Service) recently signed a Cooperative Management Agreement to further codify and delineate the collaborative management obligations for development of the management plan and management of the monument in general.

Comb Ridge, Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Tim Peterson/Lighthwawk
Comb Ridge, Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Tim Peterson/Lighthawk

Unfortunately, the Grand Staircase-Escalante MAC is a holdover from the previous administration and does not afford sufficient representation of Tribal, conservation, and other necessary interests. And while there is no similar commission or collaborative management requirement for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, there is, for both monuments, the mandate that the federal agencies “provide for the maximum public involvement . . . including consultation with federally recognized Tribes . . .” in development of the monument management plans.

Another good thing is that the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears MAC meetings with the  federal agencies are public, and we encourage you to attend. Both MACs recently held public Zoom meetings to kick off the monument management planning process.

We expect the official public process (called scoping) for both monuments’ management plans to start in mid-August. Scoping is the general public’s first chance to help shape the monument management plans. We’ll provide more detailed information when that process begins.

—Judi Brawer and Michelle White

(From Redrock Wilderness newsletter, Summer 2022 issue)