National Monuments: Bears Ears

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National Monuments: Bears Ears
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Mason Cummings, TWS

Tribal culture and red-rock country threatened by mining and looting

TWTDBears Ears National Monument’s unique landscape and priceless archaeological and cultural sites are at risk of being damaged or destroyed by mining, drilling and development.

The Bears Ears area has long been considered one of the most "endangered" historical spots in the U.S. due to persistent looting and vandalism of cherished Native American sites. But hope spread when President Barack Obama designated Bears Ears as a national monument in 2016. Now, all is at risk again. Thanks to unlawful boundary reductions that stripped protections from hundreds of thousands of acres of land, Bears Ears faces major threats from uranium and other mining interests as well as oil and gas drilling.

Why this place matters

Bears Ears is a living museum of Native American cultural sites and fossil beds. This relatively undeveloped stretch of red-rock landscape includes stunning piñon-juniper forest and desert punctuated by dramatic sandstone mesas, canyons and arches.

100,000+ archaeological and cultural sites
Many will go unprotected now.
5 Native American tribal nations
These nations petitioned for Bears Ears to be protected.
18 endangered species
Bears Ears is home to at least 18 species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The threat

The Trump administration unlawfully reduced the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent in 2017. This outrageous attack opened millions of acres of Utah’s red-rock country to mining, drilling, reckless off-road vehicle use and looting. It also threatened thousands of Native American archaeological and cultural sites.

We took Trump to court for violating the Antiquities Act and are now locked in a battle to prevent irreparable damage to Bears Ears. This includes working to stop any congressional proposals that would codify the monument cuts or otherwise open Bears Ears to development; countering agency proposals to manage the land in a way that shuts out public input or gives undue influence to commercial interests; and monitoring the most urgent threats on the ground, like vandalism to archaeological sites.

What we’re doing

  1. Disputing Trump’s illegal act in court

    We have joined Native American tribes and other groups to file lawsuits disputing the Trump administration's unlawful cuts to Bears Ears National Monument.

  2. Monitoring damage on the ground

    While we battle it out in court, now-unprotected lands will be opened to the real possibility of development and vandalism. We’re working with partners to monitor threats on the ground, ensuring the Bureau of Land Management doesn’t approve any activities that would harm archaeological sites or other monument resources.

  3. Fighting in Congress

    We’re fighting against legislative attempts to codify Trump’s Bears Ears reductions, which would block our legal challenges to them. We’re also fighting proposals that seek to prevent future protection of places like Bears Ears as national monuments.

What you can do
Support a proposal that would restore and protect Bears Ears National Monument.
Take action