Bears Ears Lawsuit to Stay in Washington, DC — Why This is a Win for Climbers

While the Bears Ears case is critically important to southeast Utah, it also has far-reaching, national implications. And the judge agrees.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice filed a motion to transfer our lawsuit to defend Bears Ears National Monument to the Utah District Courts, which would likely be deferential to the Utah politicians that supported the reduction of the National Monument. It would also signal that the case is not of national importance.

Photo courtesy of © John Clark

On September 24, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled that our case will be heard in federal court in Washington, DC.. This decision marks an extremely important victory because it acknowledges that this case will set a national precedent for all National Monuments. Judge Chutkan cited Access Fund’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the American climbing community as one of the reasons she decided that the case is of national importance and deserves to be heard in the nation’s capital. Access Fund is pleased with her decision and rationale.

Chutkan also ordered the government to notify the plaintiffs in the case if there are any proposals for industrial projects that would disturb the ground within the boundaries of the original monument.

Also of note, the Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss the case. Access Fund is confident in the merits of our legal complaint—that the President does not have the authority to reduce Bears Ears National Monument—and we believe that Judge Chutkan will overrule the motion to dismiss. Outdoor Alliance plans to submit an amicus brief (expert information from someone who is not a party in the case) that will further strengthen Access Fund’s position on the monument reduction.

Access Fund looks forward to presenting our case to Judge Chutkan in order to reinstate the original Bears Ears National Monument boundaries, maintain the integrity of the Antiquities Act, and provide long-term protection for the Bears Ears region and its many climbing resources.

Learn more about Access Fund's legal stand to protect Bears Ears National Monument, home to world-class climbing opportunities, and the Antiquities Act itself, a cornerstone conservation law that is used by presidents to establish national monuments. The Antiquities Act has protected many iconic climbing areas—including Mt. Rushmore, Joshua Tree (now a national park), Black Canyon of the Gunnison (now a national park), Giant Sequoia, and Devils Tower—and the climbing experience in these areas would look very different today without their enhanced status.

Credit Photo Courtesy of:
Mike Schirf | Aurora Photos

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