Fulfilling the Promise of Bears Ears
New Congress Goes to Bat for Bears Ears
Environmental champions in the Congress are kicking off the new legislative session by taking a stand to support national monuments. They’re taking action on behalf of the millions of Americans who want to see Utah’s Bears Ears and our other treasured public lands and waters protected from Trump and his industry pals.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) and Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01) today reintroduced The Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty Act.
A glimpse at where things stand with our national monuments: on December 4, 2017, President Trump illegally eliminated over two million acres of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. This shameless giveaway to the oil and gas industry represented the largest rollback of protected public lands in our nation’s history. Americans submitted nearly three million comments opposing these illegal actions and numerous plaintiffs are challenging these unprecedented actions in court. While those suits are pending, countless priceless cultural and natural resources are at risk from destructive mining, drilling and other threats.
Gallego and Haaland’s bill is a total rejection of Trump’s illegal and underhanded attack on Bears Ears. It expands the boundary of the Bears Ears National Monument from just 200,000 acres (all that was left after Trump gutted the original 1.3 million-acre monument) to 1.9 million acres. The expanded boundary, which represents the original proposal set forth by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, is based on a decade-long ethnographic study including traditional knowledge, tribal leader agreements, and GIS mapping verifying the extraordinary amount of historic and scientific landmarks or objects found in the Bears Ears area. The expanded boundaries would comprehensively protect the hundreds of thousands of culturally and scientifically significant sites from being destroyed by extractive activities. Importantly, the bill would also ensure that the Bears Ears Commission has a voice in the management of the monument, and that native traditional knowledge is incorporated in management plans.
When President Obama designated the Bears Ears National Monument, he made a promise on behalf of the American people. That was a promise to fully protect the hundreds of thousands of sacred and important objects and places found in the region—and to honor the traditions and culture of the people that have called Bears Ears home for millennia.
The Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty Act would fulfill that promise. And it would build on and improve the protection of Bears Ears National Monument by realizing the Tribes’ original vision for the monument. It’s a vision worth fighting for.