The Bureau of Land Management will accept public comments on the draft Bears Ears National Monument management plan through today, November 15. The plan would apply only to the drastically reduced monument.
It may seem silly to comment on a plan that will be thrown out if the Trump administration’s shrinkage doesn’t hold up in court. And most legal experts agree that while the Antiquities Act gives the President the power to create a national monument, it does not grant him the power to take it away. If the shrinkage were to stand, it would set a precedent that would essentially destroy the Antiquities Act.
Still, with Trump stacking the court with right-wing judges, there is a slim chance that the shrunken boundaries will stand. In that case, the plan that is currently being formulated would be the blueprint for managing what’s left of Bears Ears National Monument. It’s also possible that, if the boundaries are restored, the administration would attempt to expand this current plan to the entire 1.35 million acres. So public comments are meaningful.
I’ve written a few pieces over the years about the battle over Bears Ears, and it occurred to me that it would be nice to have them all in one place. So here you go, in chronological order, starting back in 2010. Read at your leisure. Some may be behind the High Country News paywall. If so, sign up for a free trial for access! Or contact me via this website and I’ll send you a copy.
The Trouble with Monuments: An internally conflicted rant from 2010.
Efforts to Save Utah’s Cedar Mesa Reach a Crescendo: Reflections from summer of 2015 — a few months before the debate really blew up — on the area’s part in my own creation myth and efforts to save it.
The fight for a Bears Ears National Monument heats up: From the spring of 2016, a longer look at the tribal coalition’s efforts to establish a 1.9 million acre monument.
Emotions run high over Bears Ears: My take on the Bluff public hearing from July 2016.
The Bears Ears and the Local Card: An August 2016 essay on a recurring theme of mine, namely that “local” isn’t defined by state or county lines, especially when it comes to public lands.
The Bid for Bears Ears: My longread High Country News cover story that delves into the debate, and into the deep connections the Pueblo, Navajo, and Ute people have with the landscape in the Four Corners region.
Comb Ridge Parcel Privatized: A look at the purchase of an iconic slice of Comb Ridge.
Bears Ears is a go — here’s where the line was drawn: Though the national monument is big, it’s still a compromise, with bones thrown to local opposition. From Dec. 2016
Was the Bears Ears designation a victory? From January 2017, more analysis of the compromises made in the designation — and the possibility that the monument could be reduced or revoked.
Fact-checking Hatch and Trump on Antiquities Act order: From April 2017, as Trump launched his monument “review.” Spoiler: Hatch and Trump lied.
Can Zinke shrink Bears Ears: From June 2017.
National monuments protect meaning, not just landscapes: A response to claims that existing federal regulations are adequate to protect cultural resources from oil and gas drilling and other development.
Resistance to drilling grows on Navajo Nation: This is about oil and gas development in the Greater Chaco Region, not Bears Ears per se. But there are Chacoan Great Houses within the Bears Ears region, and the issues regarding development on public land are similar.
At Bears Ears, Trump and Zinke ignored everyone but industry: In which I ponder the way the Trump administration redrew the Bears Ears boundaries.
The inundation of Utah’s Mighty Five. Dataviz on skyrocketing visitation to national parks.