October 19, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear President Obama:
As outdoor industry companies that depend on the wild landscapes where our customers recreate, we urge you to use your authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the Bears Ears landscape in southeastern Utah as a national monument. This internationally significant place deserves protection for its singular cultural significance, and for its outstanding recreation opportunities that directly benefit the outdoor industry and its customers.
Over the past 80 years, several proposals have sought to protect all or part of this important landscape, including the recent Public Lands Initiative (PLI) led by Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz. Unfortunately, the legislation includes provisions that make it impossible for us to support. The PLI contradicts several bedrock conservation laws, and would undermine the sound management of proposed wilderness areas, national conservation areas, special management areas, and recreation zones. The PLI would also grant management of more than 1,000 miles of public roads to the State of Utah, and give the state the authority to approve energy development on federal lands in eastern Utah.
Given the value of this special landscape, combined with current and acute threats to its integrity, we feel that the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition’s proposal to create a collaboratively-managed national monument that respects and celebrates the traditional and ancestral ties of Native American people to these lands – while protecting the landscape for all Americans – is the most viable path forward.
There are many reasons to protect the Bears Ears, but we in the outdoor industry best understand the value of this area for recreation and respectful adventure. We acknowledge that the Bears Ears region – with more than 100,000 archaeological sites – is America’s most significant unprotected cultural landscape, and that recreation on these sacred lands must be enjoyed respectfully. With engagement from the Native American community and recreation interests, we can ensure that important outdoor recreation opportunities like climbing in Indian Creek, paddling the San Juan River, and backpacking in Grand Gulch are preserved.
The proposed Bears Ears National Monument – conceived by a historic consortium of sovereign tribal nations and backed by a diverse group of stakeholders – would honor the area’s rich cultural history and preserve its many outdoor recreation amenities. We support your use of the Antiquities Act to secure a national monument designation for Bears Ears this year.