Environment | National | Politics

Tribes reiterate bid for national monument at Bears Ears in Utah






Cedar Mesa in Utah was home to the ancestors of today's Pueblo tribes and other tribes. Photo by Don Romnes

Tribes in the Southwest are again calling on President Barack Obama to establish the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah after Republicans unveiled a draft bill that doesn't offer the same level of protections for the site.

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition pulled out of discussions with Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) last month after saying tribal concerns were being ignored. The draft of the Utah Public Lands Initiative confirms those fears, tribal representatives said.

"Though the PLI bill proposes establishing a Bears Ears National Conservation Area, it does so at the cost of prioritizing oil and gas leasing -- including within the Bears Ears proposal boundary -- and minimizing tribal involvement in management of this sacred ancestral landscape," Utah Diné Bikéyah, a group that represents Navajo Nation supporters of a national monument, said in an update about the legislation.

Bishop and Chaffetz have defended their approach and said their bill represents another step in the process toward addressing federal land management issues in Utah.

In addition to the Navajo Nation, the Ute Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Hualapai Tribe and all 20 Pueblo governments support a monument at Bears Ears.

Get the Story:
Utah tribes say public-lands bill ‘adds insult to injury,’ petition Obama to designate monument (The Salt Lake Tribune 1/21)

Also Today:
A First Draft of the Public Lands Initiative is Already DOA With Tribes and Green Groups (Utah Public Radio 1/20)
Conservationists decry Utah’s Public Lands Initiative, say draft hides ‘poison pills’ (The Salt Lake Tribune 1/20)

Some Opinions:
Editorial: Bishop/Chaffetz lands bill is still a work in progress (The Salt Lake Tribune 1/21)
Bruce Babbitt: It's time for Obama to make Bear Ears in Utah a national monument (The Los Angeles Times 1/20)

Related Stories:
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 (8/5)