USFS Upper Cottonwood Recording Project

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USFS Upper Cottonwood Recording Project

Join USFS and FCM to record sites in Upper Cottonwood!

When: October 24th-25th

Where: Upper Cottonwood, Bears Ears National Monument

Join USFS and FCM for two days of site recording in Upper Cottonwood! We will spend one night car camping in Bears Ears National Monument as we record archeological surface sites.

Preference is given to volunteers that commit to both days. Space is limited.


National Public Lands Day 2017

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National Public Lands Day 2017

Join FCM and BLM to support public lands!

When: September 30th, 9:00am 

Where: Montezuma Canyon

Join FCM and BLM for a day of service! We will be working on two projects for NPLD 2017. Some volunteers will install buck and rail fencing at two nearby archeological sites in Montezuma Canyon to protect against ongoing and potential cattle damage. Other volunteers will work to remove the existing chain link fence and haul it away.

We will meet at the Clark’s Market grocery store in Blanding, Utah at 9:00am

Space is limited so sign up now!

Threatened: Access to Public Lands in Cottonwood Wash

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Threatened: Access to Public Lands in Cottonwood Wash

Public Access to Bears Ears Threatened near Bluff

Voice your concerns! – September 19th, 11:30 am, Community Hideout Center, Monticello

250 ft of County Road B2721 and all of County Road D5036 are proposed for closure.

Friends of Cedar Mesa and the community of public lands users in San Juan County has recently learned that a private land owner has requested that San Juan County close two public county roads in southeast Utah that allow access to the Bears Ears National Monument. The two roads, a segment of B2721 (approx. 250 feet in length) and D5036, pass through private land to allow access from Bluff to South Cottonwood Wash, which is in the national monument.

For decades, many Bluff residents and visitors have enjoyed morning strolls and afternoon walks up Cottonwood Wash. South Cottonwood Wash is a critical access point for non-motorized access to public lands. These scenic and culturally rich lands should not be transformed into the exclusive backyard for private property owners. Closing these roads will literally lock out the public and diminish recreational opportunities for Bluff residents. Closing, or “vacating” these roads is a move to reduce access to our public lands.

This is about private individuals locking up public lands – and we will not stand for it.

Defend public access to Cottonwood Wash

This decision will affect many public lands users. Join FCM at the public hearing in Monticello, Utah on September 19 at 11:30 am in telling  San Juan County that these roads should remain open.

Click here for directions to the Hideout Community Center in Monticello.

How can you help?

  • Attend the public hearing on September 19th
  • Write to the address below or email by September 15th and tell them you do not support the vacation of county roads B2721 and D5036 because they are critical to public lands access.
    • San Juan County Public Lands Department
      Attention: Nick Sandberg
      P.O. Box 9
      Monticello, Utah 84535
  • Share with another public lands enthusiast!

New lease sale threatens rich archaeological areas

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New lease sale threatens rich archaeological areas

BLM Proposes Leasing Highly Sensitive Archaeological Areas for Drilling

Share your expertise with FCM & BLM

Unrecorded rock art site in one of the proposed lease parcels.

The BLM recently proposed leasing more than 57,000 acres of public lands in San Juan and Grand Counties for oil and gas development at an auction to be held in March of 2018. Some of these parecels include dense areas of archaeology, including multiple Chaco outlier great houses, thousands of recorded and unrecorded smaller sites, and incredible rock art panels. Several of the largest archaeological sites in Utah are included in the proposed lease parcels. In fact, this sale may include more archaeological sites than any lease sale in the modern history of the BLM, with the possible exception of a proposed 2015 sale where parcels were deferred on cultural resource grounds pending development of the proposed San Juan Master Leasing Plan (MLP).

The Three Kiva Pueblo site is a public site the BLM has proposed for a developed recreation area. But it’s also in the proposed lease sale.

We are now told this “smart from the start” MLP planning effort is unlikely to be developed under the current Administration. This is highly disapointing news, as FCM believes oil and gas development can be pursued in a responsible manner, creating a win-win for industry and archaeology, but only if planning is done strategically on a landscape scale, not one drilling permit at a time.

We are early in the process for this lease sale and the BLM is asking the public for “scoping” comments to help them formulate issues for their Environmental Assessment. In a Salt Lake Tribune article about the sale, a BLM spokeswoman said, “As part of public scoping, people are invited to come forward with knowledge or concerns about these parcels​, so they can be addressed. A robust analysis is key to making well-reasoned decisions about whether it is appropriate to lease these parcels.”

Cliff dwellings line many of the canyons included in the proposed drilling area.

Included in the proposed lease areas are protions of Recapture Canyon (currently closed to vehicles), Alkalai Ridge, Montezuma Canyon, and a small portion of the San Juan River corridor, as well as many lesser known areas. You can see the BLM’s documents and maps about the sale here. FCM has prepared a larger, more detailed maps. See the northern zone here and the southern zone here.

Friends of Cedar Mesa is preparing a robust response to this proposed sale. If you’re willing to share your knowledge of the area with us, please contact We also encourage you to submit comments to the BLM in the scoping process here. The deadline for comments is July 27, 2017.

Visit with Respect educational offerings

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Visit with Respect educational offerings

“Hmmm, I’m bringing my group to explore the archaeologically rich Bears Ears National Monument. What should I tell them about how to be good visitors?”

You decided to bring a group to Bears Ears National Monument, great! And you want to know how to visit with respect, awesome! We would love to help teach your group the concepts of careful visitation to the area’s cultural and natural resources. Our staff offers a variety of fun, informational and engaging educational programs, tailored to your group’s age and needs. With flexibility on timing and location, and at no cost to your group, what are you waiting for? Contact Erica to enquire about dates and programs that would best fit your group.

Visit with Respect orientation– 1 hour

An orientation to the public lands of the area, with games, skits and discussions to practice the concepts of Visit with Respect. Great for all ages, and perfect for groups new to exploring ancient sites.

Photo by Corey Robinson

Visit with Respect campfire talk– 1 hour

Fun for a group wanting a laidback yet engaging introduction to the public lands and archaeology of the area, and how to visit with respect. Designed to occur at your camp, you provide the fire ring and wood (s’mores optional)!

Visit with Respect slideshow – 1 hour

If you have an indoor space and are looking for a larger group orientation, this more formal PowerPoint presentation may fit the bill! Enjoy beautiful images of the area and suggestions for how you can protect it.

Videos online

Check out our short, light and fun videos, designed to show you and your group why this area is worth visiting with respect. Watch them in advance of your trip from the comfort of your home or classroom.

Visit with Respect logos and icons

Our Visit with Respect information and icons are meant to be broadly shared. Contact Erica if you’d like files of our videos, icons, and products.

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.”

Shumway Cabin Fall Service Project

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Shumway Cabin Fall Service Project

Volunteer with FCM to finish the Shumway Cabin project

When: November 4th, 9:00am

Where: Historic Shumway Cabin

Join FCM and SITLA as we complete the ongoing service project at the Historic Shumway Cabin site. Earlier this year, volunteers worked with archaeologists and family members to stabilize the historic early 1900s cabin. On November 4th, volunteers will be installing interpretive signs and building wire fence to get the site ready for visitors. We will meet at the parking area at the intersection of Hwy 191 and Hwy 262, south of White Mesa, at 9:00am on November 4th. We’ll wrap up the day with a celebration including peach pie and ice cream, in honor of the peach orchard that historically grew at the cabin. Sign up today!



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!


New technical trucker hats for sale

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New technical trucker hats for sale

Style meets function with our new “technical trucker” hat created by our friends at BoCo Gear, a Conservation Alliance member. (The Conservation Alliance has helped fund FCM work to protect Bears Ears.)

These new hats raise the bar with a moisture-wicking sweat band around the inside of the hat, a soft bill, and awefully good looks, if we do say so ourself.

You can get one at our onlie store.