Why we’re going to court to defend Bears Ears

Suing the President of the United States – that’s a big step for our little organization. We’ve never litigated against anyone before, and it’s an absolute last resort. Why are we doing it? Well, this video probably explains it better than any words could:

ERASED: Trump’s cuts to Bears Ears in 100 photos from Friends of Cedar Mesa on Vimeo.

We always look to collaborate first, second and third. We believe we don’t always have to agree on every issue to be Friends, to work together, and put aside our differences. We’re geared toward practical solutions and compromise.

In fact, we worked toward a legislative solution for years before it became clear a legitimate bill protecting the greater Cedar Mesa area just wasn’t going to happen in Congress. We’ve always said we’d be there anywhere, any time there was an honest and earnest discussion about how to protect the Bears Ears region in a reasonable and practical way. We never said a Monument was the only way or even the best way to protect this area.

But what do you do when no one will even sit down with you in a legitimate effort to find common ground? It wasn’t like anyone really consulted us on the monumentally bad decision to leave 1.1 million acres of one of the world’s most important cultural landscapes unprotected and open to oil/gas drilling and uranium mining. Promises that Congress might one day actually do something to protect the area just aren’t enough.

So, we’re going to court to defend Bears Ears, Cedar Mesa, Grand Gulch, Bluff’s watershed, and so many other remarkable places that should be preserved forever. It’s just not in the realm of reasonable that one president should be able to cut 1.1 million acres of protected lands, representing 85% of the monument that another president thoughtfully protected.

We are very grateful for the pro-bono services of Hogan Lovells, an internationally recognized law firm with the resources, expertise, and experience to see this long fight through to the end and win. We are also grateful for our partners in this lawsuit who all bring deep passion and commitment to protecting Bears Ears. Our co-litigants include Utah Diné Bikéyah, Archaeology Southwest, Conservation Lands Foundation, Access Fund, the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, National Trust for Historic Preservation and business champion Patagonia Works. If you have interest, you can read our joint press release on the lawsuit.

Bears Ears is exactly the kind of place the Antiquities Act was meant to protect. And there’s no better place to defend the Antiquities Act than at Bears Ears.

But this fight will be a long one, with publicity that only guarantees that visitation, without government resources to deal with it, will continue to increase. That’s why we need your ongoing support so we can continue our work on the ground collaborating with federal agencies and ensuring resources are protected through visitor education. If you haven’t already, please join us in doing something positive and proactive while all this plays out in court. Please support the Bears Ears Visit with Respect Education Center today!

Author: Josh Ewing

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

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