I recently participated in the Flight Across America student program with EcoFlight. EcoFlight is a 501(c)3 aviation organization based in Aspen.
Every year EcoFlight provides an opportunity for college students to study current conservation issues in the West. The program uses small airplanes to provide a unique aerial perspective on wild landscapes and threats to our clean air and water.
This year Flight Across America focused on the centennial celebration of the National Park Service, and what we as young adults can do to steward these parks for the next 100 years. We visited some of the most famous national parks and national monuments in the West.
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. The Bears Ears National Monument proposal is unique because the effort is led by an inter-tribal coalition of several Native American tribes including the Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni, and Ute. These Native American tribes will also play a role in managing and protecting the monument, if designated.
The monument will include over 100 sacred sites used for healing ceremonies and medicinal plant gathering. The proposed Bears Ears monument covers 1.9 million areas and will also protect public lands that are currently under threat from mining and oil and gas development.
I believe that President Obama would do our public and our Native American tribes a great service if he protects these important cultural and natural resources by designating the Bears Ears as a national monument through the Antiquities Act. I hope that the Glenwood Springs community will unite to support Bears Ears and the Native American tribes to protect their ancestral home.