Drastic Cuts to National Monuments
12/12/2017 15:16 ● Published by Alesha Damerville
All images from https://bearsearscoalition.org
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS-Oil, gas and logging companies appear the victors as President Donald Trump makes drastic reductions to public lands, making harnessing natural resources on the lands a possibility. Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante are two of many national monuments to be affected by this decision. This decision will be the impetus for a series of legal battles threatening American land conservation, putting the future of dozens of other monuments at risk.
Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante were protected under the Antiquities Act; Bears Ears was designated a monument in 2016 by President Barack Obama, and Grand Staircase-Escalante by President Bill Clinton in 1996. According to the Antiquities Act, presidents are granted authority to set aside landmarks and "other objects of historic or scientific interest.”
President Trump’s decision to reduce these monuments jeopardizes tens of thousands of archaeological sites. The Bureau of Land Management argues this to be false, claiming “it is generally illegal to remove or disrupt these resources without a permit issued by the federal government.”
“Bears Ears isn’t just about a few artifacts in isolated locations. Our cultures are still here and still thriving,” says Shaun Chapoose, member of the Ute Indian Tribal Business Committee. “The Bears Ears region is a cultural landscape – a place to nurture our families in our traditions. The monument came about through government-to-government negotiations with the previous administration, state and local officials. The president’s proposed unilateral action pleases a few powerful Utah politicians. It’s a sad state of affairs, but we are prepared to fight for our rights, and to protect Bears Ears.”
On Monday, December 4, 2017, the Navajo Nation, NARF (representing the Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe) and the Ute Indian Tribe filed a lawsuit to protect Bears Ears National Monument. The group is claiming, “President Trump’s action to revoke and replace the Bears Ears National Monument is not only an attack on the five sovereign nations with deep ties to the Bears Ears region, it is a complete violation of the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution.”
Please visit http://bearsearscoalition.org/action/ to support efforts to defend and restore Bears Ears National Monument.