The Bureau of Land Management has released its final management plan for the illegally reduced Bears Ears National Monument. The plan covers only 15 percent of the original monument as designated by President Obama in 2016, and fails to protect most of the lands with cultural and recreational significance. The plan covers only 202,000 acres of the original 1.2-million-acre National Monument. Within that area, the plan would allow forest clearing, construction of an ATV route, and raising of new utility lines. In some cases, the new plan would offer fewer protections that the pre-designation resource management plan.
The Conservation Alliance played an active role in supporting the original Bears Ears designation, raising our member company voices in urging President Obama to establish the National Monument. When President Trump signed an executive order reducing the monument boundaries, we made our largest grant ever to support Earthjustice’s litigation challenging the shrinkage in court. When the BLM sought public comment in developing a new management plan for the reduced Bears Ears, we told the agency that they should waste no time on a management plan until the litigation was resolved in court.
With the release of the plan, it is clear that the BLM has ignored the voices of millions of Americans who wanted the original monument boundary to remain in place. It is also clear that the Trump Administration disregards the cultural and recreational importance of Bears Ears in favor of resource extraction. The 85 percent of the original monument not covered by this new plan will revert to management under the 2008 Monticello Resource Management plan, leaving those lands vulnerable to uranium mining.
So, what’s next? This management plan was flawed from the start, as it covers only 15 percent of the original monument. The plan can be appealed, but it is unlikely the BLM will dramatically change the plan. That leaves the courts. The plan will be rendered entirely null and void if environmental groups and Native American Tribes win the legal battle over Present Trump’s proclamation gutting Bears Ears in 2017. We will continue to update our members on that litigation.
Meanwhile, here are a few links to news reports and Conservation Alliance grantee reactions to the new management plan:
Salt Lake Tribune – Trump Team Releases Bears Ears Management Plan to Outcry from Environmental Groups
New York Times – Trump Administration Plan for Bears Ears Slammed as ‘Recklessly’ Weakening Protections
Grand Canyon Trust – Trump Administration Issues Flawed Plan for Bears Ears National Monument
Access Fund – New Bears Ears Management Plan Fails Climbers