Statement on Congress failing to protect Cedar Mesa and the Bears Ears

Friday, December 9, 2016

“Congress has concluded its work for the 2016 session without so much as a vote in the House of Representatives on the Utah Public Lands Initiative. We believe this represents a clear sign the bill lacked the bi-partisan support necessary to become law due to the many ‘poison pills’ it contained that would have decreased protections on the ground for internationally significant lands.

“Congress has failed for 113 years to protect the Bears Ears region, an area of enormous cultural, scientific and scenic value – a landscape containing more archaeological sites than Utah’s ‘Mighty Five’ National Parks combined. This failure to act comes despite almost unanimous local support for protecting archaeologically rich areas such as Cedar Mesa. Virtually every Utah elected official expressed support for the PLI’s provisions for designating large acreages of land in San Juan County as National Conservation Areas and Wilderness.

“We hope President Obama will finish the job Congress could not by designating a Bears Ears National Monument before he leaves office. Such action would represent the quintessential use of the Antiquities Act to protect true antiquities when the legislative process has failed. While we always preferred a legislative solution, this executive action is precisely what Congress envisioned when it delegated to the President the authority to create National Monuments.

With skyrocketing visitation without management resources, continuing looting and vandalism, and the bulls eye of out-of-state energy developers, we don’t have 113 more years to wait for Congress to get the job done.”


— Josh Ewing, Executive Director


Author: Josh Ewing

As Executive Director for Friends of Cedar Mesa, Josh advances stewardship through education, advocacy, and organizing.

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