Tucson, Ariz. (July 29, 2019)—On July 25, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service released a Final Monument Management Plan for the 15 percent of Bears Ears National Monument that remains after an illegal reduction. Archaeology Southwest’s President and CEO, Bill Doelle, has issued the following statement:
“Many quickly, and rightly, condemned the plan. We found that we needed to take more time to reflect on the plan and what it represents before sharing our thoughts.
“To be honest, Archaeology Southwest had low expectations for the final version of this plan. But, upon seeing it, we are further discouraged and disappointed by what it implies about broken processes and ruinous priorities for the management of our public lands.
“We put considerable care and attention into our detailed comments on the draft management plan (read those here). Chief among our conclusions was the plain assessment that only Alternative B met the Bureau of Land Management’s and the U.S. Forest Service’s legal responsibilities for national monuments. We nevertheless noted that this alternative fell short of meeting landscape-scale planning and management requirements called for by the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS).
“The final plan is not Alternative B. Instead, it is a much less restrictive alternative with a few elements of B. Those added measures do not adequately address the significant shortcomings of the chosen management scheme. In leaning so far into the multiple-use precept, it seems BLM neglected to consider—or ignored—the fact that there are established rules enabling other considerations to override that doctrine. National monuments explicitly allow for exceptions to multiple use.
“What kinds of exceptions? Exactly the kinds that make Bears Ears worth protecting in the first place. Properly preserving and celebrating the antiquity, beauty, and significance of an indigenous cultural landscape as part of our sacred public lands, for a start. Putting those above extractive industries, for another.
“Do national monuments even mean anything anymore? We think so—or at least we think they should. Together with our partners and friends, Archaeology Southwest will continue to push for proper treatment of the greater Bears Ears landscape.”
What can you do to help right now?
- Support Friends of Cedar Mesa’s visitor education center. Learn more here.
- Visit the websites of Utah Diné Bikeyah and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to learn more about the deep histories of greater Bears Ears and its meaning to descendant peoples.
- Respectfully visit greater Bears Ears, or any public lands near you, and experience the healing powers of these remarkable places that we all have responsibility for, as citizens.
- Let your congressional representative know that you care about Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and all our public lands—especially on their current eight-week break—but every week until they listen or are voted out of office.
- Read our detailed commentary on the proposed management plan here (opens as a PDF).
About Archaeology Southwest
Archaeology Southwest is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that explores and protects the places of our past across the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest. For three decades, Archaeology Southwest has fostered meaningful connections to the past and respectfully safeguarded its irreplaceable resources. Learn more at archaeologysouthwest.org.
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