Friends Hour at WildEdge Brewing

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Friends Hour at WildEdge Brewing

It’s Friends Hour!

Thursday, July 6th, 4:30 – 6:30 pm – $20

Wild Edge Brewing Collective, Cortez, CO

Join Friends of Cedar Mesa staff and the fine folks at WildEdge Brewing Collective for a happy hour event. Get the latest news about Bears Ears and learn about the exciting stewardship projects we’ve got lined up.

Tickets are $20 in advance or at the door and include one craft beer and a handmade personal pie by the Pie Maker. Proceeds benefit Friends of Cedar Mesa.

Stick around after happy hour for a free lecture series at 7:00 pm the Sunflower Theatre by archaeologist Susan Ryan on the Northern Chaco Outliers Project. Event info can be found here.

Speak up for Bears Ears: Comment Period Extended

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Speak up for Bears Ears: Comment Period Extended

The San Juan River, Comb Ridge and southern Bears Ears National Monument.


n June 12th, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced his intentions to recommend removing National Monument protections for large portions of the Bears Ears cultural landscape. Friends of Cedar Mesa opposes any move to leave this landscape unprotected in blind hope Congress might someday do its job. (See our statement on the Secretary’s interim report.)

While details were not released regarding which specific parts of Bears Ears National Monument would be left unprotected (and consequentially opened to industrialization), the intent to dramatically shrink the Monument was crystal clear.

The public comment period to let our government know you support the Bears Ears National Monument being permanently protected in its entirety has been extended until July 10th.  If you haven’t already commented please do. Also make sure all your friends and family who care about the area make a comment. If you already commented, please also make a comment specifically about the Secretary Zinke’s interim report.

To show your support for Bears Ears and other monuments that are currently under review, please comment directly on by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search”. The page says that the Bears Ears comment period is closed, but IT IS NOT. Please leave your comment there, either for the first time or specifically about the Interim Report!


Secretary Zinke recommends unprotecting parts of Bears Ears: Our response

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Secretary Zinke recommends unprotecting parts of Bears Ears: Our response

Friends of Cedar Mesa Reaction to Secretary Zinke’s Recommendation to Reduce the Size of the Bears Ears National Monument

Today Friends of Cedar Mesa learned that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended eliminating National Monument protection for at least some of the Bears Ears landscape. While details were not released, any meaningful shrinkage of the Monument would remove protections for areas of rich scientific, historic, cultural, archaeological and recreational significance – places that hold great spiritual and traditional importance for sovereign Native American nations.

It’s worth noting that President Obama did not protect all the important archaeological, scenic and spiritually significant areas of the Bears Ears landscape. More than a half million acres that were proposed for protection by the five Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition were left out of the Bears Ears National Monument by the Obama Administration in its attempts to precisely designate the size of the monument in response to feedback from local and state stakeholders.

Secretary Zinke’s interim report also suggested that areas left unprotected by executive action would be recommended for National Conservation or National Recreation Area status, designations that would theoretically be bestowed by Congress at some future date – that despite congressional failure for 114 years to protect the Bears Ears region.

In response to news of Secretary Zinke’s recommendation, Friends of Cedar Mesa Executive Director Josh Ewing issued the following statement.

“Based in Bluff, Utah, we at Friends of Cedar Mesa are blessed to be able to look out our front door and see the Bears Ears National Monument. We are strong local supporters of the Monument and have first-hand experience in the back country throughout the Bears Ears.

Despite Secretary Zinke’s statements that he believes this area is ’drop dead gorgeous‘ and should be protected, his recommendation would leave many places of enormous scientific, historic, spiritual, and recreational value unprotected and open for exploitation by out-of-state extractive corporations.  While we always favored a legislative solution and worked harder than any conservation group on the Public Lands Initiative, preemptively removing protection for this landscape in blind hope that Congress might someday do its job flies in the face of history and is a recipe for a management disaster. It’s like postponing paying your mortgage hoping you’ll win the lottery.

Secretary Zinke’s recommendation now encourages the President to take action that would be both illegal and immoral – removing protection from objects of scientific and historic value protected by President Obama’s proclamation.

This recommendation shows disrespect for the international significance of the Bears Ears area – for Native American Tribes, for American history, and for recreation. Bears Ears is exactly the kind of cultural landscape – filled with real antiquities that are inextricably connected with their surroundings – that Congress intended the Antiquities Act to protect.

We believe this move to remove protections and consequentially open areas of Bears Ears to industrialization is unlawful and irresponsible. We will utilize all tools available to protect this landscape – everything from continuing on-the-ground education to defending the Bears Ears National Monument in court.

The extensive listening and public outreach undertaken by the previous administration for the Bears Ears National Monument included several days on the ground and in the wilds of Bears Ears, hundreds of discussions with stakeholders (including the Utah congressional delegation and county commissioners), public meetings for everyone to have their voice heard, and pronounced respect for Tribal sovereignty. By contrast, this recommendation ignores the voice of unified Native American Tribes, local supporters of Monument protection, and hundreds of thousands of Americans who have spoken out for keeping Bears Ears completely protected.  Despite an extremely truncated public comment period during the past two weeks, the response was overwhelmingly in support of protecting Bears Ears in its current state.

Removing National Monument protections for key parts of the Bears Ears without replacing them in advance with any practical alternative will only lead to more damage to the archaeological and natural resources of this internationally significant area. Visitation to Bears Ears has been dramatically increasing over the last decade, and the recent controversy only guarantees this trend will continue. We are concerned this recommendation and the likely executive action to follow it will only further delay much-needed visitor management and cultural resource protections while resolution of this issue languishes in the courts.”

Stabilization of Historic Shumway Cabin

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Stabilization of Historic Shumway Cabin

Photo provided by Kay Shumway.

Volunteers, archaeologists, family members, and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) came together this past spring for a remarkable restoration project of the Shumway Cabin in Recapture Wash. Over the past few months, the early 1900s historic cabin was stabilized in hopes that it will be around for another 100 years for the enjoyment of visitors and descendants of its original inhabitants.

The cabin was originally built by the Peter Minnerly and Mary Elizabeth Johnson Shumway family and it was Kay Shumway of Blanding, Utah originally brought the condition of his family’s historic cabin to the attention of Friends of Cedar Mesa. Together with Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants, we dreamed up a project that would protect this historic site, which is located on SITLA land. A photographer and avid hiker, Kay helped orient SITLA archaeologists and Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants to the location he has routinely visited since his childhood. Archaeologist and volunteer Jay Willian then helped get the project going by recording the historic site in which the cabin is located. 

The condition of the cabin was quite precarious, with many of its walls crumbling and its front entrance lost to the cutback embankment of Recapture Wash.

With funding from Friends of Cedar Mesa and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the cabin underwent a serious makeover to restore it to its original dimensions.

First, the cabin was recorded in the Utah archaeology database and next, an adjacent cottonwood tree that threatened the integrity of the structure was removed with the help of Thomas Wigginton of TM Premier Services out of Monticello.

It was a tricky operation removing this cottonwood without damaging the structure.

In May, volunteers overcame days of stormy spring weather and pesky gnats to stabilize the cabin by “repointing” the existing mortar and adding roofing and window boxes to match the original dimensions of the cabin. FCM volunteers and Woods Canyon’s team matched the new mortar with the same local source of sand that was used when the cabin was built. In total, volunteers from Blanding, Bluff, Salt Lake, and Colorado contributed over 85 service hours in preserving the cabin.

Kay stands in front of the stabilized structure.

Jason Chuipka, co-owner of Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants and the vision and brains behind the project said of the accomplishment, “The Shumway Cabin was in critical condition prior to this project, and was close to collapsing into a pile of rubble. With a little planning and a lot of labor, we were able to save this piece of Utah history for many decades to come. This would not have occurred without the successful collaboration between state agencies, professional archaeologists, volunteers from across the area, and members the local community who all put value in preserving the past.”  

“SITLA is grateful for the efforts of Friends of Cedar Mesa, Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants and the community of volunteers who participated in this very worthwhile project. Thank you so much for keeping one local family’s and the wider community’s heritage alive and tangible for today and into the future,” said Kenny Wintch, an archaeologist with SITLA. Friends of Cedar Mesa is planning on working more with SITLA to bring interpretive signage and some protective fencing to the location in the fall of 2017. If you’re interested in participating in future projects at the Shumway Cabin, shoot us an email.

Before and after aerial footage provided by Kay Shumway.

Friends of Cedar Mesa is especially grateful to Kay Shumway, who made this project come to life.

When we asked Kay about the completed project, he shared these kind words with us: “The Shumway family deeply appreciates the stabilization of the cabin and it will be a place where we can gather and tell family stories that help hold us together as a family. When we can understand what our ancestors did we are more determined than ever to make good use of our lives and pass this appreciation on to our descendants.”

Volunteers help repoint the cabin, stabilizing its walls for new roofing and beams.

Volunteers complete 1200′ of fencing at Cedar Mesa Great House site

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Volunteers complete 1200′ of fencing at Cedar Mesa Great House site

Volunteers from Osprey Packs travelled all the way from Colorado to help!

Kudos to the 20+ volunteers and BLM staff that helped construct and finish 1,200 feet of fencing to protect a Great House on Cedar Mesa!

How better to respect and protect than with hard work?Thank you to our volunteers who put in over 300 service hours over five work days to install this buck-and-rail fencing. The Ancestral Puebloan Great House was being damaged by cattle and off-road vehicles travelling unknowingly across the site.

We owe special thanks to the BLM staff who made this long-term project a success.

Stay tuned via our newsletter, blog and Facebook for others ways to be involved in on-the-ground stewardship work in the Bears Ears National Monument.

BLM staff helped carry heavy bucks for a quarter mile at the site.

Now hiring: Statewide Site Steward Coordinator

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Now hiring: Statewide Site Steward Coordinator

**This position is now full**

About FCM

Friends of Cedar Mesa (FCM) is a conservation organization in Bluff, Utah founded in 2010. FCM envisions a future where the public lands in San Juan County – with all their natural, cultural and recreational values – are protected and respected. To achieve this goal, we work to educate visitors about respectful recreation, monitor cultural sites, effect change through research and service projects, improve land management policies, and engage citizens in advocacy. In 2016, FCM entered into a 5-year Financial Assistance Agreement with the Utah Bureau of Land Management to develop and expand a statewide site steward program to increase the number of citizen stewards who are regularly volunteering in cultural resource monitoring activities throughout Utah. FCM recently concluded the “Information Gathering and Analysis” stage of the program.


About the Position

Friends of Cedar Mesa is looking for a three-quarter to full-time Utah Site Steward Coordinator who will have the overall responsibility of developing a modernized and standardized statewide site steward program for cultural sites on BLM-managed lands in Utah. The three-quarter time position would spend their time developing manuals, training programs and an electronic monitoring app for site stewards, and then sharing these tools with different Utah BLM field offices. The full-time position would have the additional responsibility of developing and expanding cultural site monitoring programs and trainings with the USFS, NPS and SITLA in San Juan County.

The Coordinator will spend up to 10% of his/her time traveling to relevant meetings and trainings in the Four Corners. This is a four-year position to carry out of the goals of the Assistance Agreement. S/he will report to the Assistant Director.



  • Develop standardized site steward manuals for three types of site steward programs that will be implemented in BLM Field Offices across the state of Utah.
  • Begin the training planning process which includes developing a training program and a training manual for site steward coordinators.
  • Work with FCM staff to fundraise for, plan and develop an electronic monitoring app.
  • Organize training and implementation of online monitoring form and electronic monitoring app.
  • Conduct annual evaluation of statewide program and solicit feedback from partner agencies.
  • Work with BLM Program Officer to facilitate dialogue between BLM Field Office archaeologists, regional site steward coordinators and Utah Site Steward Coordinator.
  • Expand monitoring efforts to partners including other land management agencies, youth groups, academic institutions and other organizations.
  • Help field offices grow number of statewide site steward volunteers annually.
  • Building partnerships with the BLM, Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS) and Utah State Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) to advance volunteer & monitoring opportunities in San Juan County (Full-time position only)
  • Travel to site steward trainings and events.

Additional Responsibilities

  • Work with Visit with Respect Program Manager on overlapping programming
  • Help with administrative tasks as needed.


Required Qualifications

The Utah Site Steward Coordinator will be thoroughly committed to BLM’s and FCM’s mission and her/his professional development. All candidates should have proven program development experience and strong writing skills. Concrete demonstrable experience and other qualifications include:

Bachelor’s degree in archaeology, anthropology, natural resource management or related degree and experience working with diverse groups of volunteers.

Strong verbal and written communication experience, especially with curriculum or manual development, with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures.

Heightened awareness and cultural sensitivity regarding Native American connections to cultural resources.

A self-motivated work ethic that is adaptive, innovative, and quick to find solutions; the ability to work both independently and collaboratively with diverse groups of people is essential. Candidate must be highly organized with the ability to plan for the bigger, long-term picture.


Preferred qualifications

5 or more years of professional experience in archaeological programming, volunteer programming, or site steward programming, a track record of effectively developing training; experience working with or for government land management agencies is a plus.

Preference will be given to candidates willing to live or relocate to within 45 minutes of Bluff, UT, a tiny town with limited amenities and the best backyard in the world. 

A high level of competency in Microsoft Office; knowledge of the Adobe Cloud Suite a plus.



$30,000 to $40,000 plus basic health care insurance depending on experience and whether the candidate is full-time.


To Apply

Please send resume, cover letter and writing sample to In your cover letter, please indicate whether you are interested in the three-quarter time or full-time position.

Friends Float the San Juan 6/11-13

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Friends Float the San Juan 6/11-13

Float the San Juan with Friends of Cedar Mesa

Raft in the Bears Ears National Monument with FCM Staff & experts in archaeology

June 11-13, 2017

Friends of Cedar Mesa and Wild Rivers Expeditions are teaming up with premiere experts in archaeology to bring our first ever “Friends Float the San Juan” river trip. This two night/three day guided rafting trip down the Upper San Juan River will feature archaeology hikes and talks as your float this particularly rich river corridor of Ancestral Puebloan and protohistoric occupation. The San Juan’s upper canyon is an outdoor museum of archaeology with many opportunities to see ancient dwellings, rock art panels, and hand & toe hold routes.

This is the perfect time of year to float the Upper San Juan when the refreshing flows balance out the warm summer temps. The trip is all-inclusive of meals, guides, and equipment.

This is a fundraising trip to help support the good stewardship work Friends of Cedar Mesa accomplishes.

Float Details

Guests are asked to arrive Saturday, June 10th at 5:30 pm for a BBQ and mandatory orientation at 7 pm where you will be given a waterproof bag and box to use for the trip. The trip launches from Sand Island on  Sunday, June 11 for two nights and three days on the river, with a late day return to Bluff on June 13th. Please note that dogs are not allowed on the trip.

Archaeology Experts

Lyle Balenquah

Lyle is a member of the Greasewood clan from the Hopi Village of Bacavi. He has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University. For over fifteen years he has worked throughout the American Southwest as an archaeologist documenting ancestral Hopi settlements and lifeways. He also works as a hiking and river guide, combining his professional training with personal insights about his ancestral history to provide a unique forum of public education.

Benjamin Bellorado

Benjamin A. Bellorado is a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is originally from Jackson Wyoming. He received his bachelor’s degree (2002) from Fort Lewis College and his Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University (2007). Ben has conducted archaeological research in the Four Corners area of the Southwest since 1999, including extensive research and fieldwork in the Bears Ears National Monument/Cedar Mesa, Utah and Durango, Colorado areas. He has managed and directed archaeological surveys, excavations, laboratory research, and preservation efforts in the Bears Ears, San Juan River corridor, and larger Mesa Verde region for over a decade. He is currently the Principal Investigator on the Cedar Mesa Building Murals Project. Using, dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), clothing theory, and cross-media approaches, his doctoral dissertation is focused on understanding the role of building murals, rock art, and woven textiles in Ancestral Pueblo societies in the area of the Bears Ears National Monument and larger northern Southwest. In his limited free time, Ben enjoys backpacking, cooking, and white water rafting.

Cost – $890


Register for the float

Sign up today, as spots are limited and this is expected to be a popular trip.

A river adventure awaits

  • Guided archaeology hikes with Wild Rivers Expeditions
  • Rock art interpretative talks
  • Animated conversation under the dark skies of Bears Ears National Monument
  • Delicious riverside dining with new friends
  • All amenities and gear are taken care of
  • A chance to connect with FCM staff about the organization’s vision and upcoming projects.

VWR Training & service work: Earth Day weekend a smashing success

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VWR Training & service work: Earth Day weekend a smashing success


Volunteers and Glen Canyon staff pose by a naturalized pullout on Muley Point

Volunteers accomplished projects at Muley Point with NPS, and new Visit with Respect ambassadors are trained and ready to go.

BLM staff lead discussion on archaeological sites at ambassador training

April 22, Earth Day, dawned bright and sunny as a determined crew headed to Muley Point to assist National Park Service staff from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with a host of projects. The following day another group of volunteers gathered in Bluff to train as Visit with Respect ambassadors.  This hands-on work and visitor education training is paramount to FCM’s efforts to protect the sensitive cultural resources in this beloved area.

Muley Point projects included collecting trash from the parking lots and view points, naturalizing a pullout by an archaeological site, and GPS mapping 60 campsites or fire rings in the area. The baseline information collected will inform future management planning for the area. It wasn’t all work, though – when projects were completed, volunteers enjoyed their picnic lunches with a great view.

The following day, Friends of Cedar Mesa, in conjunction with the BLM, held the first Visit with Respect ambassador training. Fifteen volunteers participated and spent the afternoon practicing educational visitor interactions, learning the logistics of this new program, and training on safety considerations. They also received their new trail attire – shirts emblazoned with the Visit with Respect logo and the BLM’s “Respect and Protect” logo. The new ambassadors will spend their time at heavily visited priority sites in Bears Ears National Monument, providing a friendly presence on the trail and positive education for visitors.

Visit with Respect ambassador training

We are offering our next training for Visit with Respect ambassadors on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in Bluff, UT. Please contact Erica if you are interested in learning more and joining the team.

By the end of the Earth Day weekend, our success can be highlighted through some numbers: 15 new ambassadors trained, 55 volunteer hours provided to NPS, 60 campsites or fire rings at Muley Point charted, many bags of trash collected, and one pullout naturalized. We knew we could “count on you!”


Historic Shumway Cabin Restoration Project

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Historic Shumway Cabin Restoration Project

Service Project to stabilize historic cabin in Recapture Wash – May 2017

In celebration of Utah Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month

You’re invited to participate in an exciting historic cabin restoration project with Friends of Cedar Mesa, SITLA and Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants. The Shumway Cabin site is part of an early 20th-century ranch established in 1911 or 1912 by the Peter and Mary Shumway family of Blanding, Utah. Unfortunately, Recapture Wash and other environmental factors have been eroding the foundation and integrity of this cabin.

In March, a large, dead cottonwood tree was removed that overhung the cabin, threatening the structure’s demise if it fell. The delicate job was carried out by Thomas Wigginton of TM Premiere Services out of Monticello.

For this multi-day service project, we will be stabilizing this pioneer structure of great historical significance. The dates of the service project are:

  • Monday, May 8th – Thursday, May 11th
  • Thursday, May 18th – Saturday, May 20th

We’ll plan to start around 8:30 AM each day and work till about 5pm. We’re hoping for 6-8 volunteers per day. The cabin site can only be assessed with a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle.  This will be fun but hard work…at times physically demanding. We’ll be cleaning up fallen blocks, re-stacking them, hauling water and mortar, mixing the mortar, and doing basic masonry work under the supervision of archaeologists.

If you are interested in volunteering, please pick the days you are available here. Friends of Cedar Mesa will email specific volunteer event details the week before the project.

Family photo courtesy of Kay Shumway

This project was made possible by funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Cedar Mesa Great House Service Project

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Cedar Mesa Great House Service Project

Service project to protect Cedar Mesa Great House

Part of Utah Archaeology Month – Friday, May 5th, 2017 

Join Friends of Cedar Mesa and the BLM to help protect an ancient Puebloan great house on Cedar Mesa that is being damaged by cattle and off-road vehicles. We will be doing the final of three buck & rail fence installations on Friday, May 5th in honor of Utah Archaeology Month. This is a physically demanding project involving walking on uneven surfaces and carrying heavy items.

We will meet in Bluff at 9 am on Friday. Event details will be emailed the week of the event.

To sign up, register below. This event is expected to fill up quickly!