The 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument was proclaimed by President Obama on Dec. 28, 2016. It is a landscape of deep, carved canyons, long mesas, inspiring arches, and arresting red rock formations. The monument’s namesake, the Bears Ears, are twin buttes in the heart of the landscape that rise high above the piñon-juniper forests and canyons that adorn the renowned and majestic Cedar Mesa. It lies in Southern Utah, north of the Navajo Nation and the San Juan River, east of the Colorado River, and west of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. Bears Ears is adjacent to Canyonlands National Park and is every bit the equal of Canyonlands and the other great parks and monuments of the Colorado Plateau. (Excerpt from BearsEarsCoalition.org)
The Bears Ears National Monument is a place rich in history and culture. It is a place to connect, a place to heal, and a place where Native American traditional knowledge can be explored and nurtured so that it continues to inform and illuminate modern life. The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, a consortium of five sovereign Indian nations — the Hopi, Navajo, Uintah & Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni — for years has spearheaded the effort to conserve the area in order to protect this extraordinary place for Native Tribes, all Native people, and the nation.
The monument proclamation creates a joint management plan for the area with the BLM, Forest Service and a commission that is made up of elected officials from the coalition’s five tribes and will integrate traditional and historical knowledge into management decisions. This type of co-management is unprecedented for tribes, and for ancestral lands that lie outside their reservations.
President Obama moved forward with the monument proclamation after an alternate proposal, the Public Lands Initiative, failed in Congress; and he adjusted the boundaries of the monument to more closely fit with the protected areas outlined in the Initiative.
EcoFlight has been involved with Bears Ears since the inception of the tribes’ proposal to protect this area, and has flown dozens of flights with tribes, press, climbers, conservationists and elected officials. We are thrilled that Bears Ears is finally protected: it has been 80 years since the first proposal to protect this culturally rich landscape.
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