Tell Trump: ‘Back Off Bears Ears’
Time is running out to save one of America’s newest national monuments.
The rugged Bears Ears region of southern Utah boasts ancient cliff dwellings, rare wildlife, stunning canyon lands and the highest concentration of ancient cultural sites in the country. Its intricate petroglyphs, ceremonial sites and prehistoric ruins remain places of pilgrimage for Native American tribes. In December 2016, President Obama declared Bears Ears a national monument, protecting its 1.4 million acres of federal land from looting and development.
But now, at the behest of conservative Utah lawmakers, President Trump could eliminate the monument or radically reduce its size. Trump issued an executive order last month calling on the Department of the Interior to reconsider federal protections for Bears Ears and 26 other national monuments.
Bears Ears will be decided first. Starting today, the administration has opened a brief window for public comment on whether or not to keep the monument—until May 27. Please tell the Trump administration to preserve America’s treasured natural and cultural heritage.
We’ve already collected comments from thousands of people in Utah and around the country who are passionate about protecting monuments. Here are a few that moved us:
“I have traveled, camped and hiked many times in the Bears Ears area. It is a sanctuary right here on our planet provided by the natural world. To not protect this area from any kind of further degradation and contamination would be terribly shortsighted and downright foolish.”
– Robert Kuhnert; Scottsdale, Arizona
“I live in Moab, Utah, and our public lands are very important to people like me who work in the tourism industry.”
–Lars; Moab, Utah
“In this era of the ‘wrecking ball,’ our few wild, beautiful places need protection, not plunder. Save Bears Ears so future generations will enjoy a rare, precious legacy from us.”
– Jean Hoegler; Juneau, Alaska
“Secretary Zinke, as a 40-year resident of the beautiful state of Utah … I encourage you to visit Bears Ears and please include representatives of Diné Bikéyah (as well as other Native Americans) in your one-on-one discussions while you are there…. I do not claim to know why our Utah legislators claim the Obama administration 'grabbed' these lands without local public input … as we 'locals' attempted to protect these lands prior to the monument’s designation. Nor do I understand why the myth that local Navajos and San Juan County residents will lose their access to use the monument lands as they do now is perpetuated; the monument designation clearly states existing and (some) future rights for hunting, grazing, mining and gathering, etc. will continue. I am asking, as a Utahn, that you review carefully all the documentation that exists about the very lengthy, careful and deliberative process that was followed and thoughtfully reach a decision that will protect both the landscape and cultural aspects of this amazing place.”
–Julie; Salt Lake City, Utah
“I'm an avid outdoorsman who has spent 60 years visiting wilderness areas and exploring the pristine beauty these places provide. These places are fragile. Shortsighted greed and extraction of resources in these places will never offer the same value a person gets from being present in the breathtaking majesty of our nation's jewels. I want my grandchildren to be able to share these places with their grandchildren, the same way my parents shared them with me. Keep them safe and protected for generations to come.”
–Terry Brown; Ukiah, California
“If the Native Americans have requested this, it is because these areas are sacred to them—just as sacred as our churches are to us. Why do we never try to protect the Native Americans’ sacred practices like we expect to protect our own religious freedom? In reality, these sacred lands should be sacred to us also. When these areas are ‘preserved,’ we the people get to enjoy them. When they are not protected, the rich just get richer …”
–Emma Beverage, Austin, Texas
“As a Hoosier and a proud American, I love nature and treasure our national monuments. The idea that my children might not be able to see the same wonderful national monuments I saw with my father as a young man distresses me. The idea that visitors from other nations may not travel to see our nation's beautiful land breaks my heart. Please do not deprive our great nation of its majestic, natural beauty.”
–Nile Arena; Bloomington, Indiana
“I have relatives in Moab, Utah, which is about a two-hour drive from Bears Ears.... I have seen some artifacts that probably still exist only because hardly anyone knows about them. And I have seen them only because I have family there who shared their knowledge. Establishing Bears Ears as a national monument is only the first step in protecting artifacts of historical interest and of deep importance to those who were there before any others.”
–Stephen; Centreville, Virginia