The Conservation Alliance was deeply involved in securing designation for Bears Ears National Monument. Through our funding program, we supported many grassroots organizations that led the effort to protect this special landscape. And through our advocacy efforts, we helped bring the outdoor industry’s own voice to bear on the effort. Last December we all celebrated a monumental victory when President Obama declared this landscape a National Monument, protecting 1.35 million acres of rich archeological history and world-class outdoor recreation. The designation preserved 100,000 archaeological sites, and some of our favorite places to play in Utah, including Cedar Mesa, Grand Gulch, and Indian Creek.
Four weeks ago President Trumped signed Executive Order #13792 directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review 27 National Monuments designated or expanded since January 1, 1996 to determine if their boundaries are consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act. Since Utah’s political leaders are pressuring President Trump to shrink or rescind Bears Ears National Monument, it became Secretary Zinke’s top priority.
When Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior opened a 15-day public comment period to hear how Americans feel about Bears Ears National Monument, we took action and asked our members to join us in a formal response.
We Stand with Bears Ears and ask that Secretary Zinke recommend Bears Ears National Monument remain fully intact – all 1.35 million acres of archelogical history and world class recreation.
May 25, 2017
The Honorable Secretary Zinke
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
RE: Monument Review, MS-1530
On behalf of nearly 90 outdoor industry companies, thank you for the opportunity to comment on Monument Review, MS-1530. The Conservation Alliance is a group of more than 200 outdoor industry companies nationwide that manufacture and sell products for use in the outdoors. As engaged stakeholders that depend on the wild landscapes where our customers recreate, we strongly oppose any executive action that would reduce or rescind any National Monument under review.
The Bears Ears landscape is exactly the kind of place the Antiquities Act intended to protect. It is rich in cultural history and archaeological sites, which inspired a historic coalition of tribes to band together to push for its designation. This tribal coalition remains staunchly opposed to any changes to the monument boundaries.
The region also boasts world-class rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, canyoneering, whitewater paddling, and skiing. Whether it be climbing in Indian Creek, paddling the San Juan River, or backpacking in Grand Gulch, the iconic recreation opportunities within the monument directly benefit the outdoor industry and its customers. Please see the attached map that details the recreation opportunities on the landscape. Bears Ears National Monument is a place where outdoor enthusiasts have the opportunity to respectfully explore a protected landscape where past and present intersect. Bears Ears National Monument can also help sustain a local recreation-based economy. According to a new study by the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $12 billion in direct consumer spending and supports 122,000 jobs in Utah.
The process that led to the designation of Bears Ears National Monument was thorough and transparent. For more than 80 years, a wide array of decision makers presented proposals seeking permanent protection of all or part of this worthy landscape. The final boundaries closely resemble those proposed for legislative protection in the Public Lands Initiative (PLI), led by Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz. The PLI boundaries were drawn to include, not exceed, the acreage necessary to preserve the rich cultural heritage, ecological values, and recreational opportunities found in the area.
The Conservation Alliance did not ultimately support the PLI legislation because it included provisions that undermined bedrock conservation laws, and the management of federally protected lands. However, groundwork and maps drawn throughout the three-year PLI process significantly influenced the boundary that would ultimately define Bears Ears National Monument. The PLI process incorporated perspectives from not only the tribal coalition, the outdoor industry, and conservation groups, but also San Juan county residents. We are confident that any credible review of the Bears Ears designation will confirm that the boundaries are more than justified.
Thank you for reviewing the decades of hard work and thoughtful consideration that culminated in the designation of Bears Ears National Monument, and for making the time to visit the region. We hope that your experiencing this landscape first-hand will help lead you to recommend that President Trump leave the Bears Ears National Monument fully intact.
We look forward to working with you to steward America’s greatest public land treasures in a manner that allows future generations of Americans to enjoy these wild places. The Bears Ears National Monument is an iconic place worthy of protection for its cultural and recreation values. Preserving Bears Ears is an investment in our economic future.