BREAKING: Biden Signs Order to Review Bears Ears National Monument

Published Jan 20, 2021

BREAKING UPDATE: Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order to review the boundaries and conditions of Bears Ears National Monument. The Executive Order gives Interior Secretary Deb Haaland 60 days to summarize her findings. Access Fund is thrilled that President Biden intends to review Bears Ears National Monument and restore landscape protections. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to protect this exceptional cultural region, which is also home to world-class climbing areas like Indian Creek.

Published Jan 15, 2021

Access Fund, the national advocacy organization for more than 7 million climbers across the country, is calling on the incoming Biden Administration to protect Bears Ears National Monument as soon as possible in the coming weeks.

President Trump's executive order excised this area, known as Valley of the Gods, from Bears Ears National Monument. Ancestral lands of Ute and Pueblo. © Trevor Bowman

Bears Ears is a sacred landscape to Native American communities, and it also offers world-class climbing and outdoor recreation. In December 2017, the Trump Administration illegally reduced the size of Bears Ears National Monument by 85% to open it up to oil and gas extraction and uranium mining. Access Fund and a broad coalition of partners sued to defend Bears Ears, and that case is still pending in federal court in Washington, D.C.

During his campaign, President-Elect Biden pledged to protect Bears Ears, along with other national monuments that had come under attack during the Trump Administration. Since the election, Access Fund has been encouraging the incoming administration to take swift action to ensure long-term protection for this fragile and culture-rich landscape. Until advanced land protections are institutionalized, the outstanding cultural, ecological, and recreational values remain threatened by extractive industry.

“Bears Ears is irreplaceable, and it is still threatened,” said Chris Winter, executive director of Access Fund. “We encourage the Biden Administration to move quickly to protect the incredible cultural and recreational values of this beautiful landscape.”

Access Fund is also asking the incoming administration to develop a new, landscape-scale monument management plan, giving the Native American community a more meaningful role in its development and better reflecting stakeholders, including climbers.

In an attempt to cement its unlawful reduction of the monument, the Trump Administration fast-tracked a Monument Management Plan for the reduced monument units. This premature management plan failed both climbers and tribes, postponing for years critical recreation management that is needed now to protect and uphold the values of the monument. Access Fund hopes to rectify this through a new Monument Management Plan that addresses the entire 1.35 million-acre landscape.

Biden’s campaign pledges regarding conservation—plus his likely nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland, a vocal advocate for public lands conservation and Native rights, to lead the Department of the Interior—give us hope that Bears Ears will be permanently protected. Sign up for Policy Digest below to receive updates.

Credit Photo Courtesy of:
Abbi Hearne

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