On November 10 Rainey Center CEO & President Sarah Hunt engaged in a roundtable discussion hosted by Utah Valley University about the current situation with Bears Ears National Monument. Bears Ears is 1.36 million acres of public lands administered jointly between the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service and is located in San Juan County in Southeast Utah. Native Americans use the Bears Ears National Monument region for traditional and ceremonial uses, including the collection of medicinal plants, while tourists visit Bears Ears for recreational purposes. The surrounding land is rich in fossils and contains natural gas and uranium reserves.
The Bear Ears National Monument has recently been used as a political football, such examples of that are:
- President Barack Obama, via executive order, initially established Bears Ears as a National Monument under authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act on December 28th, 2016, recognizing it as sacred land of cultural and spiritual significance to Tribal Nations.
- On October 8th, 2021, President Joseph Biden reestablished and enhanced the original acreage of the Bears Ears National Monument through Presidential Proclamation 10285, which nullified and reversed President Donald Trump’s previous executive decision on December 4th, 2017 to reduce the national monument by 85%.
- President Trump’s reduction reflected his assertion that the monument, established by President Obama, was a federal overreach at the expense of local interests that was too extensive and covered unnecessary lands.
- Utah Governor Spencer Cox and the state’s congressional members expressed concern that the monument should be promulgated through legislative means rather than executive action to avoid frequent alterations by subsequent Presidents.
- Regarding President Biden’s recent proclamation, all four of Utah’s Congressmen and both U.S. Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney issued a joint public statement in Washington, D.C. and published a local op-ed, A monumental insult.
To watch the roundtable discussion, click here.