09/18/2019

The Complex Fight for Bears Ears & Indian Creek

Access Fund’s fight to protect the Bears Ears region is complex and multilayered—from on-the-ground stewardship work to ensure the long-term sustainability and responsible use of climbing at Indian Creek, all the way to suing the Trump administration to restore the original monument boundaries and protect the integrity of the Antiquities Act, the law that gives presidents the authority to designate National Monuments. The following infographic helps illustrate the multifaceted approach to protecting this incredible landscape.

Few places encapsulate the power of the land like Bears Ears in Southeast Utah. Vast, full of deep natural beauty, diverse ecological communities, world-class climbing opportunities, and home to millenia-old human history, the Bears Ears region is a unique wonder. Sacred land to the Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Diné/Navajo, Hopi, Zuni (among many other Pueblo communities), and home to one of the highest concentrations of indigenous archaeological and cultural sites in the nation, Bears Ears is uniquely suited for national monument designation.

The protections afforded by the Obama-era monument proclamation were much-needed safeguards against rampant looting and vandalism of indigenous cultural sites, as well as against unsustainable resource extraction that threatened the ecological integrity and recreational value of the region. Access Fund lobbied hard to get climbing acknowledged in the 2016 monument proclamation—a first-of-its-kind victory that included rock climbing as part of the stated value of a national monument.

However, 85% of this incredible landscape lost its protected monument status when President Trump issued a proclamation to reduce the Bears Ears National Monument boundaries in December of 2017. This move put much of the unparalleled cultural, ecological, and recreational values of the region in peril once again.

Access Fund, and other stakeholders who love this region, have not taken this setback lying down. Shortly after Trump’s 2017 reduction, a diverse coalition of stakeholders— including climbers, tribes, conservation groups, and even outdoor companies—mobilized to protect this incredible landscape and get the original monument boundaries reinstated.