​The Fight for Bears Ears is Just Beginning

President Trump’s December 4, 2017 proclamation to drastically reduce Bears Ears National Monument sent shockwaves through the outdoor recreation community. After an in-depth analysis, Access Fund determined that we needed to take a legal stand in order to protect the Bears Ears region, all national monuments, and the Antiquities Act itself.

© Trevor Bowman

On December 6, 2017, Access Fund filed a legal complaint at the US District Court in Washington, DC to preserve and protect the Bears Ears National Monument. We argue that President Trump's proclamation to replace Bears Ears National Monument with two smaller units is unlawful. We assert that the President's action exceeded the authority provided by the Antiquities Act, and that it violates the Property Clause and Take Care Clause of the United States Constitution. You can read more about Access Fund's position on the Bears Ears reduction in detail here.

A number of other plaintiffs have filed lawsuits to oppose the reduction of Bears Ears, and in response, the Department of Justice filed a motion to consolidate multiple lawsuits on Bears Ears Protection in order to avoid redundancies and streamline litigation. All plaintiffs, including Access Fund, will still be able to argue individual cases and file individual appeals. We do not expect this consolidation to hinder our lawsuit.

We have a long battle ahead of us in our legal fight for Bears Ears, and the fight will be measured in years, not months. But our lawsuit to protect Bears Ears is only half the battle. In addition to litigation, Access Fund is actively working to block bills that would institutionalize the reduction of Bears Ears or weaken the integrity of the Antiquities Act (e.g. H.R. 3990). The House of Representatives is not wasting any time trying to codify the reduction of Bears Ears.

Earlier this month, Congressman Curtis (R-UT) introduced H.R. 4532, a bill that prescribes management guidelines for the reduced Bears Ears National Monument—if this bill passes Congress is one step closer to formalizing the Bears Ears National Monument reduction and setting a dangerous precedent for all national monuments. The House Committee on Federal Lands held a hearing on H.R. 4532 on January 9, and Access Fund submitted detailed testimony that calls the legality of the Bears Ears reduction into question and challenges the loss of rock climbing as an approved activity in the proclamation, as well as the loss of landscape-scale management planning. Access Fund will continue to monitor this bill, and we ask the climbing community to stay alert for a potential action alert. If this bill gets scheduled for a vote, we will need to activate your voices.

We expect more attacks on our public lands in the near future, which could threaten even more climbing areas. Access Fund remains stalwart in our commitment to protect climbing on public lands, and we’re in it for the long haul.

Credit Photo Courtesy of:
Abbi Hearne

Take a Stand With Us

Help our policy experts, scientists, and lawyers defend Bears Ears National Monument and their irreplaceable climbing areas. This is a critical battle in the greater fight for America's public lands.
Donate Today