Environment | Opinion

Editorial: Bears Ears in Utah deserves protection as new monument






The Bears Ears Buttes in Utah framed with summer wild flowers. Photo by Tim Peterson

Republican politicians continue to stir opposition to a proposed national monument at Bears Ears in Utah but one New Mexico newspaper supports efforts by tribes to protect 1.9 million acres of sacred and ancestral sites:
Bears Ears, to be blunt, is in need of rescue. Its 1.9 million acres contain vital links to the past, with hundreds of thousands of archaeological sites — cliff dwellings, great houses and petroglyphs, all there to be appreciated. Instead, at Bears Ears near the Four Corners area, the roots of our American story lie unprotected. The Bears Ears in question are twin buttes in an area that lies in a spectacular landscape in southern Utah — piñon-juniper forests, deep canyons, arches and red rock formations. Stunning, iconic landscape, with clues about our past, if we don’t let them vanish.

Because of grave robbers, looters, too-enthusiastic lovers of the outdoors and other threats, this precious patrimony is being destroyed. Rock art is stolen. Traditional structures are burned and looted. Off-road vehicles damage the terrain. Drilling and mining explorations are not being properly managed. Time is running out; more than a dozen serious looting cases were reported between May 2014 and 2015.

The president, using the powers of the Antiquities Act, can proclaim a national monument without Congress. That’s important in this case, since Utah’s congressional leaders are stalling. They had said they will introduce legislation to protect Bears Ears but have failed to put forth an adequate effort. The current bill being discussed fails to adequately protect the landscape or sites and fails to give tribes adequate say in how Bears Ears would be managed.

Get the Story:
Our View: President Obama: Protect Bears Ears (The Santa Fe New Mexican 7/31)

More Opinions:
Louise Excell and David Pettit: Rep. Bishop’s PLI should be a concern to all of us (The St. George Spectrum 8/1)
In our opinion: Working in the "messy middle" of the federal lands controversy (The Deseret News 8/1)
Nancy Pfund and Tom Baruch: Bears Ears Monument Will Protect Our Heritage, Boost Economic Growth (Morning Consult 8/1)
Protect Bears Ears (The St. George Spectrum 7/30)

Also Today:
San Juan County residents say 'doodah' to national monument (The Deseret News 7/28)
Utah guv calls pro-Bears Ears monument proposal ‘a political tomahawk’ (The Salt Lake Tribune 7/28)
Bears Ears Middle Ground Slips Away (KUER 7/28)
Time running out on Bears Ears (The St. George Spectrum 7/29)

Related Stories:
Richard Moe: Protecting sacred and ancestral land at Bears Ears (7/20)
Tribes gear up for fight over protections for sacred land in Utah (7/15)
Funding bill for Indian Country clears House for first time in years (7/14)
Editorial: Bears Ears in Utah is worthy of monument designation (06/20)
Opponents rely on dirty tricks as tribes aim to protect sacred land (06/06)
Editorial: Obama should declare a Bears Ears National Monument (04/25)
Rebecca Benally: Navajos in Utah oppose Bears Ears monument (04/13)
Non-Indian official decries effort to protect sacred lands in Utah (03/15)
Tribes oppose effort to stop Bears Ears National Monument in Utah (03/10)
Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk: Protect Bears Ears for new generations (03/04)
Obama weighs tribal request for Bears Ears National Monument (02/12)
Kevin Washburn: Republicans punish tribe with public lands initiative (02/08)
Tribes reiterate bid for national monument at Bears Ears in Utah (01/22)
Navajo Nation Council dispels misinformation about Bears Ears (10/29)
Tribes call for establishment of Bears Ears National Monument (10/16)
Jim Enote: Bears Ears worthy of status as national monument (10/14)
Tribes call for new national monument on sacred lands in Utah (08/05)