Time is Running Out to Preserve Bears Ears National Monument

Bears Ears: A national monument 80 years in the making now faces a perilous reversal of fate.

After decades of advocacy and dedication from the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, along with conservation, archaeological, and recreation organizations, President Obama in 2016 protected Bears Ears as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act.

Now, not even six months later Bears Ears National Monument is under imminent threat from an administration brazenly catering to the fossil fuel industry, which is furious that the area has been deemed too important to riddle with drilling rigs and mines.

President Trump’s recent Executive Order that calls upon Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to “review” 27 monuments designated under the Antiquities Act since 1996, specifically singled out Bears Ears National Monument. And while the Executive Order did not require public comments, Secretary Zinke has invited public input on the monuments in question, but has limited the comment period for Bears Ears to just 15 days.

The Wonders of Bears Ears

Bears Ears National Monument is a dynamic landscape, where broad, flat mesas are gashed by narrow winding canyons and punctured by sharp pinnacles. Natural bridges and stone arches are scattered throughout the area and provide evidence of its fascinating and extensive geological history. Nothing stands out more however than the “bears ears” buttes that rise above the landscape and are visible from every direction. President Obama appropriately described Bears Ears as “unsurpassed in wonders” in his proclamation designating the monument.

This unique and stunning landscape has made Bears Ears a haven for a diversity of wildlife species, from the charismatic prairie dog to the elusive mountain lion.

Utah’s only population of Albert’s tassel-eared squirrels along with gophers, rabbits, chipmunks, and shrews hide amongst the canyons and uplands in search of food—and while avoiding a host of carnivores: that also call the region home: coyotes, gray foxes, bobcats, mountain lions and black bears.

Birds of prey such as the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, and ferruginous hawk perch high atop the monument’s mesa tops using their keen eyesight to hunt for prey throughout its maze-like landscape of canyons and rock formations.

You might also spot the threatened Mexican spotted owl swooping between old growth trees or nesting in the caves and cliffs. The Manti-La Sal National Forest, a large portion of which is located within Bears Ears, is the largest contiguous habitat for the species. As logging, urban development, water development and agriculture continue to threaten large portions of the owl’s habitat, Bears Ears is becoming increasingly crucial for their survival.

Despite its dry and desert-like character, the monument surprisingly provides numerous permanent water sources. Riparian areas throughout the landscape support a countless number of species, including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. The attractive little bird requires moist riparian vegetation near saturated areas and surface water in order to breed.  A large portion of their habitat has been lost and degraded elsewhere due to water diversion, livestock grazing, urban development, and other human induced habitat changes.

Over 15 species of bats can be found throughout the monument and topographic features such as rock depressions collect the scarce rainfall to provide habitat for numerous aquatic species. Bears Ears is world-renowned for its elk population and is also home to mule deer and bighorn sheep. The area’s diversity of soils and rich microenvironments provide for a great diversity of vegetation that sustains dozens of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

The conservation value of Bears Ears National Monument is critical to southeastern Utah, and even rivals that of other national parks and other preserves in the West.

The Culture and History of Bears Ears

Aside from its incalculable ecological value, Bears Ears is a sacred place to multiple Native American tribes and has a rich cultural history. Rock art, cliff dwellings, and ceremonial sites all exist within the monument, which is key to safeguarding traditional ecological knowledge that is passed down to young and future generations. In unprotected areas, sacred sites like these have experienced looting and vandalism.

Show Your Support for Bears Ears Before It’s Too Late!

The fate of Bears Ears National Monument hangs in the balance. Submit your comments today and tell Secretary Zinke that this landscape needs to be protected in its entirety—as it was originally designated under the Antiquities Act—to safeguard its priceless wildlife, ecological and cultural heritage.

With your help, we can save this beautiful, national treasure for generations to come!

16 Responses to “Time is Running Out to Preserve Bears Ears National Monument”

  1. Karin Shipman

    Simple, we need to keep this preserve. There is plenty of land that is being ruined and pillaged already. Do not let this go into the mix

  2. Rhonda Hottman

    Here’s the thing, almost everyone is sympathetic to animals and national parks and the environment and protected areas. I would continue to protect them because if you don’t, you all will be out of a job soon and have the worst reputation in political history. This administration has already eclipsed Nixon for drama – I’d really think twice about continuing that trend. Leave the environment alone.

  3. Ursula Campos

    WHY would you mess with perfection?????? Leave it be!!!

  4. Cheryl Quinn

    Secretary Zinke, Too much of our country is being destroyed for the greed of Big Business (Oil Companies). Places like Bears Ears National Monument need to be protected. Oil Pipe Lines are leaking everywhere. The destruction of National Parks and Monuments needs to stop. Once they are destroyed…they can’t be brought back. Please Protect these beautiful places for our children and our children’s children and all future generations. Save America’s Parks, Lakes, Monuments, Landmarks…etc.

  5. Diana jennings

    This very ancestral land of the ancients needs total protection. It’s worth is equivalent to Machu Pichu and the pyramids! Also the diverse flora and fauna are exceptional. Please protect this land for future generations, and solitude – which all of us need in a chaotic world.

  6. Suzanne Vogt

    A monumental park such as Bears Ears is a treasure to be preserved. So much is held within its boundaries: archaeological treasures; endangered abimals, and an amazing ecosystem. It is a beautiful park that should be preserved for the next generations. Short term monetary gain should not be a reason to destroy our natural heritage places. What Bears Ears contains is priceless.

  7. Barbara feltner

    The land you are taking is not yours to take. Wake up before Trump and his band of billionaires take everything to feed their insatible greed. THESE AS WELL AS ALLOUR MOTHER EARTH’S LANDS ONCE DESTROYED WILL BE LOST FOREVER. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE TO PROTECT THESE LANDS. BE SILENT NO MORE. STAND NOW.

  8. P. N. Rogerson

    At some point in time, we need to start giving back to nature. Conserve, Preserve, and let Nature rebuild our ecosystems naturally. We can learn to use resources wisely without destruction. Maybe this is the decade we can and should begin this enormous responsibility. Money/Profit really shouldn’t be at the top of the list. Remember, the wise say we are suppose to be planning 7 generations ahead. Let America’s ecosystems be naturally great again. Bear”s Ears National Monument and many others need to be left as is. (May 24, 2017)

  9. Diane Bucharelli

    Please …you must realize the consequences of changing the balance of nature in places like Bears Ears. Do NOT mess with “Mother Nature…
    Sounds corny, but OH, SO TRUE !!!!!

  10. Rebecca Urquhart

    Mineral development can grow in many less sensitive lands. Leave this legacy for our children

  11. Lisa DeVille

    May 26, 2017

    Monument Review, MS 1530
    U.S. Department of Interior
    1849 C Street NW
    Washington, D.C. 20240

    RE: DOI-2017-0002

    Dear DOI:

    My name is Lisa DeVille I am an enrolled member of Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation and President of Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights. Rolling back Bears Ears or any national monument will jeopardize irreplaceable historical, cultural and natural heritage.

    The Indigenous peoples (also known as Native Americans or Indians) creations stories come from Mother Earth. The instructions, to protect Mother Earth were giving to us since the beginning of time.

    I live with oil and gas and witnessed the environmental and health impacts. We’re in the next wave of assimilation, our land has been mortgaged out to those who don’t know its value or how important it is to our people. We have left our future, our children’s futures, and the question of a healthy environment in your hands and what do we have left? We have continuously been forced to assimilate to live how their society thinks is the only way. Everything has been taken repeatedly, every promise broken. And we have to accept it. Our lands have been taken, mined, and extracted of resources that will never be available again because of white man’s GREED. It’s destroying us.
    White people in the capitol, who don’t live anywhere near the devastation that we have to deal with on a daily basis, are making decisions that don’t affect them. Yet they profit from selling out the people they claim to represent. We were forced to relocate here, and it is the only lands that we have left that ties us to our ancestors. The intruders can leave whenever they want, we don’t have that option. We will have to deal with the aftermath of the irreparable environmental destruction. These white people are only here to profit off our oil, which is another flood of the same invaders who came to our lands centuries ago.
    These people have no ties to this community, their roots aren’t here. They came from Europe and settled here. They have no respect for our Mother Earth. They don’t know any better because their history proves their trail of destruction. They blinded our people with lies and greed. They told us how safe it is to extract oil and to build their pipelines. We do not know if our water is safe to drink, if the air is safe to breathe, if our land is healthy to sustain life. We are surrounded by flares while our people die in the winter. We live next to the encroachers on our lands. We see pipelines running through the lands as if they are veins of our Mother Earth. The poison isn’t going to end.
    “A review of the ethnographic literature demonstrates that Bears Ears was a sacred area for several Tribes, and that it has been encoded as an important landmark in tribal narratives.” According to the National Park Service, many tribes have potential cultural affiliation with Bears Ears National Monument.

    Traditional ceremonial activities which demonstrate the sacred nature of Bears Ears to tribes include: Personal Rituals: Prayer offerings (bundles and cloths), sweatlodge ceremonies, vision quests, funerals. Group Rituals: Sun Dance. Sacred Narratives: Origin legends, legends of culture heros, and legends of the origins of ceremonies and sacred objects.

    Today we are seeking to: (1) continue our religious practice as we have traditionally (2) maintain the land that has ancestral significance and provides deep ties to our culture that has been severely affected by colonization and American expansion, (3) preserve the land in its natural state and maintaining its deep, religious connections, and finally, (4) protect and preserve the soil – it is the foundation of healthy land and water.

    Please don’t make the mistake of focusing only on the land itself. Give equal thought to who will use the land, live on it, learn about it, or help to protect it for the future generations. Land that does not involve people on an ongoing basis becomes “out of sight and out of mind” – and subject to abuse.

    Thank you for your time!

    Lisa DeVille Mandaree, ND
    President, Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights

    The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself. – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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