BREAKING: New Information Increases Threat to Bears Ears

09/18/2017

Two new sources of information were made public yesterday regarding the future of Bears Ears National Monument.

First, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported late last night that they had obtained a copy of Secretary Zinke’s report on national monuments: Final Report Summarizing Findings of the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act (see a copy here).

This report, similar to Secretary Zinke’s interim report on Bears Ears, does not indicate the extent of the recommended reductions, but it does recommend that Bears Ears National Monument be reduced and that Congress legislate National Recreation Areas and/or National Conservation Areas in its stead. Congress has already been unsuccessful in protecting the Bears Ears region, a legislative process that Access Fund spent three years participating in. Forfeiting current protections and gambling on this Congress to pass conservation legislation to protect Bears Ears, in the current political environment, is a bad bet.

Second, presenting further details on this development, the Salt Lake Tribune revealed maps yesterday that were acquired through records requests, which outline a proposal from Utah Governor Herbert to President Trump to shrink Bear Ears. Governor Herbert's maps show a 90% reduction to Bears Ears National Monument, exposing Indian Creek to impacts from industrial development. Much of Indian Creek is located within Bureau of Land Management parcels that are proposed for oil and gas development (see map from Salt Lake Tribune below).

The threats to Indian Creek are real. The fate of Bears Ears National Monument, and Indian Creek, lies in the hands of President Trump. Access Fund urges the President not to act on the short-sighted recommendations of Secretary Zinke and Governor Herbert.

Secretary Zinke's report to President Trump also recommends that Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante, Nevada’s Gold Butte, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monuments be reduced and that 10 national monuments be modified to allow more industrial uses. Secretary Zinke also recommended that the President designate a new national monument in his home state of Montana.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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