Bears Ears National Monument preserves critical desert lands and cultural sites while enhancing protections around Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
On December 28, 2016 the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) joined the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition, local Utahns and supporters from around the country in celebrating former President Obama’s designation of Bears Ears National Monument. It was a celebration of protecting lands rich in cultural resources and spiritual significance to Native American communities, as well as scenic views and recreation opportunities in the iconic canyon country just steps from Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
But the monument is already at risk! In early February 2017, Utah Governor Herbert signed a resolution passed by the Utah state legislature calling on President Trump to rescind the monument. At the same time, Utah’s Congressional delegation is aggressively working to overturn its designation. It is unclear whether the administration will attempt to rescind the monument — something that has never been done before and is likely illegal — or if Utah’s congressional delegation will move forward with legislative action to repeal the monument and potentially replace it with some other lesser designation, which would allow greater local control, mineral extraction, and continued threats to the cultural, ecological and non-motorized recreational values of the area.
Bears Ears National Monument Is Crucial for the Greater Canyonlands Landscape
Looking at the landscape from the many striking overviews at Canyonlands National Park, visitors are stunned by the beauty of this colorful, ruggedly carved desert. What many people don’t realize, however, is that until recently, only a portion of this landscape was protected within the park boundary — and much of it was vulnerable to incompatible uses and development.
For decades, NPCA and its supporters worked to expand the boundaries at Canyonlands National Park to include more of the region’s precious lands and cultural sites — to “complete” this park so the greater landscape is fully protected, while ensuring local, gateway communities continue to thrive. After years of pursuing strategies to protect this region, NPCA recognized that a Bears Ears National Monument offered a terrific opportunity to protect the expansive Canyonlands area and southeast Utah from serious, persistent threats, including oil and gas drilling, potash mining, and irresponsible off-road vehicle use. Much of the area around Canyonlands that we worked to protect is now included in Bears Ears National Monument and will receive a higher level of protection with greater management input from Native American tribes and the National Park Service.
Why Bears Ears Matters for Southeastern Utah National Parks
- It protects much of the larger landscape originally intended for inclusion in the park by incorporating the landscape to the south and east of the park
- It incorporates Lockhart Basin adjacent to the eastern boundary of Canyonlands and particularly vulnerable to energy development. Drilling in this region would create significant impacts on the environment and be highly visible both inside and outside park boundaries.
- It provides the park and adjacent lands stronger protection from irresponsible and illegal off-road vehicle use, which can negatively impact cultural sites and wildlife and crush fragile desert plant life, resulting in increased wind and water erosion.
- It includes more of the area’s rich cultural history by incorporating the landscape south of Canyonlands National Park and protecting substantial archaeological and cultural sites, including exceptional freestanding Pueblo masonry structures, towers and rock art.
- It provides strong protections against oil and gas drilling and mining threats near Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument and a portion of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
- It helps to preserve the region’s famously dark night skies, natural quiet, clean air and critical desert waters.
Photo of Bears Ears Buttes at top © Tim Peterson.
More than 15,000 Asked President Obama to Designate a National Monument
NPCA supporters spoke up to protect this vulnerable southeastern Utah landscape by calling on President Obama to designate a Bears Ears National Monument.
More Than 15,000 Submitted Comments
Park advocates across the country urged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to protect Bears Ears – and all our national monuments.
UPDATE: More Than 16,000 Comments Sent to DOI
Park advocates submitted thousands of comments to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in support of Bears Ears National Monument.
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