Office of Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07)
Today, the Trump Administration published its proposed management plan for what remains of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah after the Trump Administration took drastic, unprecedented steps to illegally shrink the monument in 2017.
The reduction strips protections from 85 percent of the sacred land protected by the original monument over the objections of millions of Americans and the Indigenous people who have lived in the area around Bears Ears for millennia. The Navajo, Hopi, Ute, Mountain Ute, and Zuni Tribes have fought for years to safeguard their irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage in Bears Ears, and this plan would recklessly expose that heritage, including over 100,000 archeological and cultural sites, to harm.
Representatives Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) and Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01) have introduced a bill, the Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty (BEARS) Act, that would not only protect the original land designated by President Obama, but also expand Bears Ears to the full 1.9 million acres of land identified by local tribes as containing sacred artifacts and cultural resources. It would also require federal agencies to use tribal expertise to manage the monument’s lands.
Representative Ruben Gallego made the following statement:
“This proposed management plan confirms what we already knew: the Trump Administration has no interest in protecting the thousands of cultural and archeological sites in Bears Ears Monument or in seriously consulting with tribes on how best to manage their sacred ancestral lands.
“This plan recklessly weakens protections even for the land that remains in the monument, failing to protect important sites from threats like ATV use, looting, vandalism, and damage from target shooting – which would be permitted within monument boundaries under this plan.
“As a nation, we have a responsibility to conserve the important cultural and natural history that exists in special places like Bears Ears. The Trump administration monument reduction plan falls pathetically short of that standard.”
Representative Deb Haaland made the following statement:
“Bears Ears is a treasure that everyone should be able to enjoy and should be protected for future generations who hold it sacred.
“However, this Administration’s management plan only reinforces its illegal action to steal huge swaths of land from the national monument so that oil and gas and mining companies can exploit the land. It puts sacred sites at risk of being lost forever.
“It’s blatant disrespect like this that pushed me to introduce the ANTIQUITIES Act so no president can sell off our national monuments to the highest bidder.”