Grassroots movements are often at the heart of positive political and social change. Most worthy campaigns are hard-fought. Some go on for years, such as the battle to save Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which SIAN joined more than two years ago. Here is a brief review of what took place and what lies ahead for Bears Ears.
President Obama designated the original 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in December 2016. Then in early 2017, President Trump announced plans to drastically shrink Bears Ears, primarily to open areas to drilling for oil and natural gas and mining coal and uranium. In May 2017, SIAN members joined more than 2.8 million other Americans in urging President Trump and the Interior Department to protect Bears Ears and retain its original boundaries.
Nevertheless, President Trump signed a proclamation in December 2017 reducing the monument’s size by 85 percent. Federal agencies have prepared land use plans for what remains of the national monument that prioritizes off-road vehicle use, cattle grazing, and logging over the protection of cultural resources, wildlife habitat, fossils, and wildlands.
But the battle is far from over. The outpouring of support focused national attention on protecting the monument. Five tribal nations, along with scientific organizations, conservation groups, and outdoor businesses are challenging the administration’s actions in federal court. Some lawsuits would restore the original monument boundaries. There is hope for Bears Ears.
Our voices matter. SIAN is helping return America to a better place. Thank you.
The SIAN Steering Committee
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