Friday, June 09, 2017

Bears Ears National Monument: Butler Wash

Butler Wash Ruins
Bears Ears National Monument. Utah. May 12, 2016.
Copyright © 2017 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Reviews Bears Ears National Monument

A Saturday deadline is approaching for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to recommend whether the controversial new Bears Ears National Monument in Utah should be abolished or shrunk. It's the first of a larger review of national monuments stemming from an executive order by President Trump last month.

So the monument wasn't a monument when I was last there a little over a year ago, and the monument may not be a monument the next time I visit.

This is a nice ruin with a very developed, mile long access trail just off of SR 95, just east of Comb Ridge.

One of the arguments against this monument is that it is "too big," and yes, it is huge.  And sites like this are already well managed and protected by the BLM.  However, this is just one of thousands of sites like this within the monument, and the vast majority are pristine...  Check out some of the videos through the link below to see what I mean; they are still filled with pot shards, corncobs, etc.  

It's these other sorts of sites that I worry about.  It's places like the ancient road that runs a little to the north from here (which I'll write about later), and other mysteries left by the Ancestral Puebloans that remain to be discovered and understood.

While most of the monument will remain under BLM management even if the current status is revoked, there is still a concern that the area will be flooded with new oil and gas leases...  It would be a shame if these were granted near, or even on, sites that may hold tremendous historical and cultural value that we don't even recognize yet.

Of course, there are other land uses, too, permitted on BLM land that would be prohibited in a monument that can also be very destructive to sensitive archeological sites and natural areas, but I am, personally,  mostly concerned about the leasing or selling outright of the land to commercial industries.

Ultimately, I see any oil and gas reserves left under these monuments and parks, in the West and in Alaska, to really be just that, reserves.  At this point it is nothing but greed that drives this sort of development.  However, if we ever truly did need to tap these resources due to a true, long term crisis, they will still be there, and, to me, that is the proper time to have that debate.

As for the rest of the land use issues, it is critical that the BLM works with the locals to make sure everyone's needs are met, regardless of the land's status, monument or not...

For my thoughts on the non-National Park Service monuments in general, I wrote a lot about that last fall in my first post on Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Yucca on Butler Wash Trail 
Flowers on Butler Wash Trail



BLM: Bears Ears National Monument Map (as of June 2017) - PDF


To comment on the monument review process (due July 10, 2017):


Bears Ears National Monument: A Quick Tour of a Monument at Risk

Bears Ears National Monument: Video and Links Collection



Department of the Interior:

Department of the Interior Press release on Bears Ears Monument Review (June 13, 2017)
Utah residents to Ryan Zinke: Hands off Bears Ears! (New analysis of submitted comments finds overwhelming in-state support for national monuments)

Salt Lake Tribune: 

Sources: Zinke to urge diminishing size of Bears Ears National Monument (June 12, 2017)

Op-ed: State politicians may not support our newest monument but real Utahns do (June 9, 2017)

Theodore Roosevelt IV: Bear Ears: A story of what passes and what endures

Jewell defends Bears Ears monument process

BLM yanks oil and gas leases proposed near Zion after complaints from residents

Deseret News: 

BLM, Forest Service plotting next steps for Bears Ears

San Juan Record:

Secretary Zinke recommends reduced size of Bears Ears National Monument (June 13, 2017)

Sec. Zinke to make Bears Ears recommendation (June 6, 2017)

Bears Ears National Monument designation disastrous for Utah grassroots Navajos (April 12, 2016)


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Reviews Bears Ears National Monument (June 9, 2017)

With National Monuments Under Review, Bears Ears Is Focus Of Fierce Debate (May 5, 2017)

Utah’s Bears Ears monument is a rock star for night skies – and mineral resources

The Wilderness Society:

Photo gallery: Utah's Bears Ears region is a natural & cultural treasure

Unprecedented outpouring of support for Bears Ears shown during official comment period

National Monuments in Danger:

CLICK HERE for posts about the monuments being "reviewed" by the Trump Administration

To comment on the monument review process (due July 10, 2017):

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