***Update: the Department of Interior is accepting public comments about protecting Bears Ears through May 26th. Click here to take action and have your voice heard!***
Today, President Trump signed an executive order instructing Ryan Zinke, the new Secretary of the Interior, to perform a review of all monuments larger than 100,000 acres created since 1996. This would include our new Bears Ears National Monument, as well as the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Importantly, the order gives Secretary Zinke just 45 days to review the status of 1.35 million acres of southeastern Utah’s most scenic and culturally rich lands — a place sacred to many Native American tribes.
Below is a statement from FCM Executive Director Josh Ewing regarding the Executive Order:
“The tone of today’s announcement by President Trump and the exceedingly short 45-day review window concern me. This very well could be a sham review with a pre-determined outcome.
“A legitimate, fact-based review of the Bears Ears Monument will show that any reduction or change from the current designation will place in jeopardy valuable archaeological resources, incredible scenery, and world-class recreation. Former Secretary Sally Jewell spent extensive time studying this issue over several years, spending multiple days on the ground herself, meeting with elected officials and locals on all sides of the issue, meaningfully engaging with five sovereign Native American tribal governments, and hosting a fair and balanced public meeting in Bluff with more than 1,500 people.
“If that kind of effort is taken in this review — most importantly meeting sovereign Native American Tribes and spending real time on the ground with local experts — I’m confident the result will confirm the international importance of the Bears Ears Cultural landscape, which holds more sites than at any other US National Park or National Monument.
“On the other hand, if a review is short hand for only listening to a few political opponents of the monument — ignoring tribes, archaeologists and local supporters — then it’s a waste of the American taxpayer’s dollar that can only result in lawsuits and the land being further damaged due to inaction by those who claim to care about this remarkable place.”