Tribes come out in support of climbing at Bears Ears

We are thrilled to announce that earlier today, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition came out in support of climbing in southeastern Utah.

As we have been reporting for the last few months, there is a contentious battle among lawmakers over how this spectacular swath of America’s public lands should be managed. There are two competing plans on the table: a controversial Public Lands Initiative (PLI) bill that prioritizes resource extraction and development on over 10 million acres in eastern Utah, and a National Monument proposal, written by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, that would protect a 2 million acre swath of southeast Utah for conservation.

Although climbing access is not guaranteed in either of these plans, Access Fund believes that in the current political climate a Bears Ears National Monument is the only realistic option for protecting the sensitive Bears Ears region. A National Monument designation would provide natural and cultural resource protections for Indian Creek, Valley of the Gods, Arch Canyon, Lockhart Basin, and countless other known and yet-to-be discovered climbing opportunities. And although the National Monument designation would only directly protect the southeast corner of eastern Utah, it would effectively defeat the current PLI, which threatens Castle Valley, Fisher Towers, San Rafael Swell, and many other climbing areas.

After months of collaboration and exploration of common ground with the Inter-Tribal Coalition, we are gratified to report that earlier today they submitted a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell expressing their support of continued climbing access in the region, and inclusion of climbing in a potential National Monument proclamation.

“We believe that the climbers will be committed and effective advocates for good land-use policies and practices in the Bears Ears National Monument. In particular, we believe that climbing should properly be included in the presidential proclamation as a legitimate use of monument lands; climbing has never been mentioned in a proclamation to date but we believe it would be appropriate here.”

Access Fund submitted its own letter to Secretary Jewell today, expressing our support of the National Monument. Amidst the conflict over control of Utah’s public lands, we are grateful of climbers’ continued friendship with the tribes, and we look forward to years of collaboration ahead.

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