The Wildlands Conservancy successfully closed escrow on the 320-acre Cottonwood Wash property in July 2023. Although this property is located within the current Bears Ears National Monument, this privately held parcel was previously excluded from the boundaries of the Monument. Its protection was viewed as critically important with access to cultural sites and recreational opportunities, and the presence of hanging gardens, a spring-fed pond, and a riparian forest with diverse plants and migratory birds. The protection of Cottonwood Wash now provides access and connectivity with tens of thousands of acres within the Monument, and helps preserve the history and culture of Indigenous cultures.
Next steps for this important landscape will include restoration efforts, providing pedestrian access, and engaging with partners. A cultural conservation easement will be created in favor of the five Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition: Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Zuni Pueblo. This easement will protect the landscape permanently and provide right of access for Tribal ceremonies and co-management of the land.
This is The Wildland Conservancy’s first acquisition in Utah and the cultural conservation easement, which creates a joint effort between a nonprofit and Tribal communities to conserve land, is one of the first such partnerships in the nation.