Our Treasure, Our Future – Protect Bears Ears National Monument

National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.

 Protect Bear Ears National Monument – Sample Script for Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ACTION ALERT: public comment period open for Interior Department’s National Monuments Review–Submit Comments for Bears Ears before May 26, 2017; all others before July 10, 2017. Click here to submit:  Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996

(The following is a sample comment script designed to inform and is provided for inspiration and ideas. Please do not cut and paste!  Edit the script to make it your own and add personal commentary.  We strongly encourage you to explore on your own what this monument is and what protecting it means to you. Remember, this is your National Monument.  We need to protect not only this monument but also the ability of our elected leaders to designate lands under the Antiquities Act so they are available for our future generations. For more ideas on how to write a strong submission, click here: “Suggested Outline or “Hot Topic” Review List for Comments.” )

 Protect Bear Ears National Monument

Thank you for this opportunity to express my strong support for maintaining The Bears Ears National Monument as it has been designated, legally by President Obama. I also wish to express my support for the Antiquities Act itself that has been protecting priceless heritage sites since the early 1900s. Without the Antiquities Act Chaco Canyon is just an empty shell, raided of all its treasures. Mesa Verde has been looted and the Grand Canyon is probably another lake full of houseboats. We have many of those, we only have one Grand Canyon.

And we have only one Bears Ears. A coalition of Native American Tribes  has been fighting for protection of The Bears Ears for over eighty years. It is their ancestors buried there, their cultural resources that need protection. Time and again the American government has simply taken from the Tribes what they were told was theirs. Are we going to do that again? Is the Department of Interior going to listen to the Tribal Coalition or just pay it lip service while it listens instead to the Utah State Delegation?

It is a travesty that this review – completely unnecessary in the first place – is then given only fifteen days. Is that so the high priced lawyers of Industry or Utah State lobbyists are the only ones able to get their comments in? What about the Tribal members – it’s their ancestors, their sacred land – do they all have cell phones and wireless? Or will many of them going to depend on the US mail? Was this comment period specifically designed to minimize the the Tribal voices just like Secretary Zinke minimized his precious time with them on his recent visit?

The land of the Bears Ears has always been Federal land. It has never belonged to the state of Utah. The monument cannot block access to any existing private or state lands within the park. Nothing has changed in that regard.

Maps on BLMs own website show proposals from the 1930s for an Escalante National Monument that crosses the Colorado River to the east, encompassing what is now both the Grand Staircase-Escalante snd Bears Ears National Monuments. The current designation is sigificantly smaller. But this current boundary has been accepted by the Tribal coalition to protect both Antiquities and a priceless landscape. IT SHOULD BE RESPECTED. The monument border should not be modified.

People come to Utah because of these monuments. The monuments, parks, mountains, deserts and unspoiled wild lands are a national and world – wide draw for visitors. The Utah Travel Bureau crows about this beautiful, intact wild land. Look at the economic cost, in real dollars lost, when companies pulled out of the Outdoor Retailers Show in Salt Lake City this year over the state of Utah’s demand to rescind The Bears Ears designation. Talk to the local business owners who are thriving from visitors to the monuments.

In spite of what the State of Utah is saying – that Utahans oppose The Bears Ears, it is Utahans who supported the Monument and the Tribal Coalition that finds itself continuing to have to fight for this already settled designation. Far from showing that it respects the land it owns, the State of Utah is currently  selling off it’s land through auctions to the highest bidder. Those lands are no longer public. They are gone.

Removing or revising the long sought and badly needed monument designation for Bears Ears that is protecting the antiquities sacred to the Tribal coalition will do nothing to help the people living in the communities near the monument. It will only serve to increase tensions and bring on lawsuits. The monument designation does not restrict access to any state or private in holdings. The federal land that the monument resides on belongs to all Americans.

The monuments boundaries, all on public land are appropriate as the absolute minimum for the monument designation. These boundaries have been subject the negotiations and reviews since the 1930s. Existing  uses, such as grazing leases are allowed to continue under this monument designation.

The Bears Ears, rich in cultural artifacts is not only a poster – child for protection under the Antiquities Act; antiquities within the park, cliff dwellings, burial sites, pottery, baskets and art have been under serious threat from looting and vandalism. Only the US Government has the Resources to provide long term protection that is needed. Only the US government has the resources to protect this monument into the future. This monument is what we leave to our children and our children’s children. I know when you are here, in southern Utah, the monument and the other parks here seem vast. But leave the state. This spectacular area is all we have left. Previous generations protected these areas for us to enjoy and respect. We need to protect this for future generations.

I STAND WITH THE TRIBAL COALITION. 

I STAND WITH BEARS EARS.

Contributor: J.C., Bothell, Washington

Click here for more Bears Ears sample comments ideas


BACKGROUND/HISTORY OF BEARS EARS

The Bears Ears are a geologic formation – the tops of twin, rounded buttes on a mesa that are visible for miles in southeastern Utah. Storm runoff from the high mesa has carved a maze of canyons as  water cuts down through layers of sandstone – south to the San Juan River and west to the Colorado. Hundreds of years ago a people, now known as the Anasazi lived in these canyons. They grew grain in canyon bottoms in an environment thought to be wetter and more hospitable than today. They climbed the cliffs, stored the grain and built dwellings up high on the canyon walls, out of harm’s way, by the the thousands. They made decorated pots, wove baskets, and left drawings – pictographs and petroglyphs on rock faces. They are thought to be part of a community covering a huge area of the southwest that included the dwellings in Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. And then they disappeared.

The Spanish, on their early forays into North America are thought to have been the first non-native visitors to the ruins of Chaco Canyon, a large Anasazi cultural center in New Mexico. In the mid – 1800s archaeologists and private explorers were combing through Chaco Canyon and some of the more accessible cliffs houses, doing excavations and removing artifacts. By the turn of the century – the last century – over a hundred years ago – people were becoming alarmed at the uncontrolled investigations and removal of artifacts by private pot hunters taking place at these cultural wonders – ancient villages and cliff dwellings isolated and unprotected out in the arid southwest. There was no Park Service, Forest service, or Bureau of Land Management. There was no Grand Canyon National Park. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that Major John Wesley Powell  navigated the Colorado River, filling in the last large blank spot on the American map.

The Antiquities Act

In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt, with tremendous foresight and sense of historical responsibility – he had witnessed the almost complete decimation of the American Bison, seen forests laid waste by logging, and mining that left only spoiled land and water in its wake – signed the Antiquities Act which had been approved by Congress. He declared Chaco Canyon a National Monument in 1907.  Over a hundred National Monuments have been designated since. Several National Parks, including Grand Canyon, were first protected as National Monuments. Today, in the 21 century we still have those monuments, those parks, those sacred antiquities only because of the action of our past leaders.

Designations under the Antiquities Act have routinely been upheld by the Supreme Court. The Court continues to affirm the President’s ability to designate the type and size of the area to be protected under the Antiquities Act.

Bears Ears Designation

The push for protection of the Bears Ears, the artifacts and sacred burial grounds it contains go back at least to the 1930s. A Tribal Coalition of Navajo, Hopi, Ute, Ouray and Zuni tried negotiations with Utah State leadership in 2015, but those talks failed. President Obama, at the urging of the Tribal Coalition – and a loud outcry from Utahans and citizens from around the country, dedicated The Bear Ears National Monument on December 28, 1996, shortly before leaving office. 

Proposals for a monument that would protect The Bears Ears area date back to over 80 years. Visiting the BLM.gov web site and searching on The Bears Ears will bring up a series of maps. One from 1936 shows a proposal for an “Escalante National Monument that would encompass what is now Grand Staircase National Monument and the area of The Bears Ears National Monument.

Resources:

Below are just a few links to aid in your comments on the Bears Ears National Monument. A quick search will bring up many others.

  1. http://bearsears.patagonia.com
  2. http://bearsearscoalition.org
  3. What Would Teddy Do? https://youtu.be/WZWzracgNCM
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bears_Ears_National_Monument
  5. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/04/trump-trying-shrink-bears-ears-national-monument-heres-why-scientists-are-worried
  6. “A LETTER TO UTAH – The TRUTH About BEARS EARS” https://youtu.be/S14QBQVcbVg

 

Photo:Indian Creek in Bears Ears National Monument. BLM; August, 2016. Public Domain

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6 thoughts on “Our Treasure, Our Future – Protect Bears Ears National Monument”

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