This Week in Bears Ears News: Nov. 20-26

Winter Storm on the Comb Ridge

Winter Storm on the Comb Ridge

Below is a sampling of stories from the past week chronicling the latest developments in the fight for the future of Bears Ears National Monument.

(NOTE: new to the Bears Ears saga? Start here. Familiar with Bears Ears but a bit behind on the news? Read last week's news roundup here.)

We're going to cheat a little and share with you the big story that broke on Nov. 28:

Trump to visit Salt Lake City on Monday, will announce a smaller Bears Ears and Grand Staircase - Salt Lake Tribune, 11/28/17

In a highly anticipated announcement, the White House confirmed that President Trump would visit Utah on Monday, Dec. 4 to officially announce his plans to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Contrary to initial reports that Trump would visit San Juan and/or Kane counties, - where Bears Ears and Grand Staircase are located, respectively - the President will instead make the announcement from Salt Lake City and is not expected to stay the night in Utah. Cue numerous lawsuits promised by Native tribes and conservation organizations. Things are about to get very litigious. 

Another good story from the Trib: 

"We've gotten so bureaucratic": Secretary Zinke plans to use his military experience as a blueprint for reorganizing his department - Salt Lake Tribune, 11/25/17

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has become a surprisingly controversial member of the Trump administration. From his polarizing initiative to review the boundaries of national monuments including Bears Ears to his plans to dramatically reduce the number of Interior Department employees (not to mention those much-maligned private jet trips), Zinke has found himself at the center of heated discussions over the future of public lands in the U.S. 

Speaking of Zinke:

Zinke Aims to Shave National Monuments - Except in His Home State - Huffington Post, 11/27/17

While Zinke makes plans to reduce the acreage of numerous national monuments across the U.S., he has left monuments in his home state of Montana alone, and is even proposing a new 200-square-mile monument, protecting that land from oil and gas drilling in perpetuity. It's a notable contrast to the Interior Department's push to expand extractive-industry activities on public lands.  

Native Americans rewrote the playbook for preserving public lands - and Trump is trying to erase it - Los Angeles Times, 11/26/17

The L.A. Times, reporting from San Juan County, Utah, provides a thorough and nuanced look at the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition's historic work to establish Bears Ears National Monument and preserve their sacred ancestral lands, and concurrent efforts by the Trump administration and its supporters across the rural West to remove protections on the land. The piece also addresses a little-examined facet of the battle over Bears Ears: the degree to which the monument may define the economic future of San Juan County. It illustrates the stark differences in opinion between those who see the potential for a tourism-based economy to bring prosperity to an economically depressed area and those who champion increased investment in mining and oil and gas drilling, which have historically provided the county's highest-paying jobs but have also led to devastating boom-bust cycles. 

And finally, let's end on a positive note:

Bears Ears mural unveiled in Salt Lake City's Granary District - Fox 13 Now, 11/24/17

From the story: 

Utah artist, Josh Scheuerman, has been working on the 100 foot by 20 foot mural for more than a month.

"This is a reminder, a giant billboard, to say the outdoors, the wilderness is here and it's always been here," Scheuerman said. "You've just got to go find it and help protect it."

Native Americans here in Utah hope the mural gives inspiration to all.

"I hope it inspires a sense of responsibility to Native Americans and a sense that this landscape is for all of us and needs to remain beautiful like that," said Carl Moore, Chairperson of Pandos SLC Air Protectors.



Rebecca Robinson