The Valley of the Gods was included in Bears Ears but not in Shash Jáa. | Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management
You’re saying, “Hey, didn’t we just comment on this? Why are we having to comment AGAIN?” Let’s take a quick moment to review.
Native Americans spent years campaigning to protect Bears Ears, a distinctive site where Navajo believe their people rose from the earth. A coalition first tried congressional initiatives, which were blocked or ignored. They then appealed directly to Obama and then- Interior Secretary Sally Jewel, using the “Antiquities Act“. On December 28, 2016, President Obama designated 1.4 million acres containing ancient cliff dwellings and an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites as “Bears Ears National Monument”.
Grand Staircase/Escalante, designated as a national monument in 1996, is a 1.9 million acres area rich in unique rock formation scientific, ecological, and paleontological resources.
Unfortunately, all these treasures are sitting on top of the country’s largest coal deposits. And uranium. And oil.
Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument is to be cut in area by half, and sawn into three pieces, “Grand Staircase”, “Kaiparowits” and “Escalante Canyons”.
The fate of land no longer protected as a “monument” is discussed in Part 1.
Yes, we all need to comment on the BLM’s new “land use” plans.
Our comments that we submitted for the March 19th deadline played a critical role in protecting Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in the short term while legal teams worked to put together challenges.
However, the BLM is moving forward with creating new “land use” plans that reflect the diminished Monument boundaries and potentially destructive new uses of the land now outside the monuments.
Please note that you must comment separately on each monument plan and that they have different deadlines.
Here are points for you to use that are common to both monuments:
- They don’t have to be long! More are better.
- Write personalized comments if you can, as the agency is likely to disregard boilerplate messages. Have you been to these monuments? Write about what you experienced and how important preserving them is for you.
- The proclamation reducing the boundaries of either National Monument is, first and foremost, an unlawful action that will ultimately be overturned by a court of law. Under the Antiquities Act, the President only has the authority to create a national monument, and only Congress can revoke or reduce the boundaries of an existing monument.
- The BLM should abstain from management planning until a court has ruled on the legality of President Trump’s action. Rapidly moving forward with this planning effort is a waste of valuable agency resources that would be better spent addressing much-needed on-the-ground cultural and natural resource protection issues.
Specific information for Bears Ears – Deadline April 11th, 2018
Comment here for Bears Ears. Or here.
Or email here.
Postcards or letters: Attn: Field Office Manager
Monticello Field Office
Bureau of Land Management, P.O. Box 7, Monticello, UT 84535
Information on planning process here.
Specific points about Bears Ears:
- Any interim actions planned within the original and legitimate Bears Ears National Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in President Obama’s proclamation. Proclamation 9558 (December 28, 2016).
- In developing a management plan for the Shash Jáa and Indian Creek management units— (the two small pieces left in Trump’s order), and in order to ensure protection of cultural and natural resources—BLM must consider alternatives that permanently close Arch Canyon, Lavender Canyon, and Davis Canyon to motorized vehicle use.
- Navajo President Russell Begaye, in his testimony before the US. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, stated that the language indicating that the two leftover pieces would be “Tribally Managed”, is deliberately misleading and that the use of “Shash Jaa“, the Navajo word for Bears Ears, is not only insulting, but a cynical cultural appropriation to imply Native American support.
- In order to ensure adequate public review and comment, the public comment period should be extended to 90 days after the last BLM or Forest Service public hearing.
- In addition to Bears Ears National Monument gateway communities, public hearings should also be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, Flagstaff, Arizona, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Denver, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.
Specific information for Grand Staircase-Escalante – Deadline April 13th, 2018
Comment here for Grand Staircase-Escalante. Or here.
Or email here.
Postcards or letters: Attn: Monument Manager
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Bureau of Land Management, 669 South Highway 89A, Kanab, UT 84741
Information on planning process here.
Specific points about Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument:
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated in 1996, with its primary purpose to protect the incredible scientific, ecological, and paleontological resources within its 1.9 million acres. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary should only be done for the purpose of protecting Monument resources as set out in the original proclamation.
- BLM’s 1999 Monument management plan was the result of a deliberate and collaborative process that involved scientific scrutiny and intense public participation. Any interim actions within the original and legitimate Monument boundary must comply with the 1999 management plan.
- All motorized travel routes within the original Monument boundary that were closed or limited under the 1999 Monument management must continue to be managed pursuant to the management plan. For example, the Paria River—a fragile riparian corridor within a Wilderness Study Area that was purposely excluded from President Trump’s monument boundaries in order to facilitate ATV use—must remain closed to all motorized vehicles.