Urgent Need for Bears Ears Protections as White House Reviews Monument
The Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, filed a 2018 lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s illegal actions to revoke and replace the Bears Ears National Monument boundaries. The Tribes recognized the importance of maintaining the long-sought protections established for this sacred and incredibly valuable landscape. In January of this year, that case was stayed to allow the Biden Administration to do a review of several monuments, including Bears Ears National Monument. This week, Secretary of the Interior Haaland submitted the results of that review to the White House.
The Tribes look forward to seeing swift action from the Biden Administration to protect these imperiled public lands and all that they hold. Recent developments directly and immediately threaten the lands and resources found within the original Bears Ears National Monument boundaries:
- Since President Trump’s 2017 actions to reduce protections for the region, new hard rock mining claims have been located in the original Bear Ears boundaries. Since March 2021 at least four new claims have been recorded.
- The Bureau of Land Management, Utah, recently received more than 100 oil and gas lease nominations throughout the eastern section of the original Bears Ears monument. There are approximately 60,000 acres of proposed leases in the Bears Ears region that the tribes seek to protect, with roughly 43,000 acres within the monument boundaries established by Obama.
- Vandalism of sacred Native items in the region continues. In April 2021 alone, two acts of vandalism involving thousands-years-old petroglyphs occurred in the area.
The recent activities described above highlight the need for swift presidential action. The Tribes remain hopeful that Secretary Haaland’s report to the White House recognizes the urgent need to protect this unique cultural and scientific resource.