While the fate of Bears Ears awaits the outcome of litigation, one of the proponents of the monument designation — the nonprofit Utah Dine Bikeyah (UDB), whose Native-led efforts to preserve land and culture helped secure protection of Bears Ears — has initiated efforts aimed at working with San Juan County officials to identify potential paths toward a more robust economic future.Read More
When you've covered a story or beat long enough, every new development becomes interwoven with the past months or years' coverage. A familiar cast of characters reprises their roles; key themes emerge and recur.
And so it was with the recent House Natural Resources Committee hearings on HR 4532, Utah Rep. John Curtis's bill that would codify President Trump's December 2017 executive order shrinking Bears Ears National Monument. On one side: the Utah Congressional delegation, Republicans on the committee, and the San Juan County Commissioners, represented by Commissioner Rebecca Benally; on the other, elected leaders from the five sovereign tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition: The Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni, and the Ute Indian Tribe.Read More
Our weekly sampling of stories from the Bears Ears beat:
Utah Governor Gary Herbert says the new plan will encourage tourists to explore scenic areas beyond the state's "Mighty Five" national parks, which thanks to a wildly successful marketing campaign are now severely overcrowded. Some Herbert critics see irony in the Governor's seeking to promote outdoor tourism.Read More
When we spoke with residents of Bluff, Utah last month about their decision to incorporate as a town, the original Bears Ears National Monument established in December 2016 by Barack Obama was still intact. Bluff, a tiny community of 250 or so people in Utah’s southeastern corner that lay just outside the monument, was still widely expected to become the de facto gateway to Bears Ears. But that was before the Trump trip.Read More
It is impossible to understand the complex blend of cultures, the powerful connection to the land, and the political landscape that informs the Bears Ears debate without an awareness of the deeply held religious beliefs of Natives and Mormons.
To Native Americans in the Bears Ears region and indigenous peoples around the world, the earth is a living, breathing entity: a nurturer, life-giver, and beloved family member to be treated with unconditional respect.Read More
The county is the poorest in the state, and revenues from extractive industries and ranching are declining while the infrastructure needs are significant. The toxic mix of strong emotions and deep uncertainty make progress on an inclusive and sustainable economic development plan problematic at best. Will leaders find a way to put politics aside and rise to the challenge?Read More
“The recreation economy is coming to San Juan County,” says Korenblat, who owns Western Spirit Cycling in Moab. “They can do all they want to try to stop it, but it’s already happening. What they do have the opportunity to do is to shape it and control it and turn it into what they want it to become.”Read More
Tribal leaders fully recognize both the opportunity presented by Obama’s action and the political challenges confronting them. Zuni Councilman and Coalition co-chair Carleton Bowekaty says the tribes are prepared to surmount what may be considerable obstacles to success.
“There’s going to be a lot of roadblocks, there’s going to be a lot of issues, but we have plenty of knowledge, [and] we have longevity in mind,” Bowekaty says. “Our view is long range.”Read More
The red rock country of southeast Utah is distinctively dramatic, a region so striking it has become a visual shorthand for the wild majesty of the West. Its iconic scenery creates a compelling backdrop—and battleground—for one of today’s most fractious and passionate debates over the future of public lands.Read More