Make Your Comments Count

Express your personal connection to these monuments. Are you a hiker, hunter, angler, archaeologist, businessperson, or simply someone who values America’s public lands and the preservation of cultural, historic, archaeological, and natural habitat? Address specific areas or issues in the monuments you are passionate about.

Talking Points for Bears Ears & Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat’l Monuments

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has drafted horrific Management Plans that will open areas to extractive activities and drastically change management goals. These proposed plans DO NOT protect the monuments’ exceptional values.

  • The Bears Ears plan excludes Native American Tribal involvement and dismisses the potential damage to archeological sites resulting from expanded extractive activities and livestock grazing.
  • As for Grand Staircase, lands removed from the original monument will be opened up to oil and gas drilling, coal, tar sands, mining, and uncontrolled off-road vehicle use. Another blow, after BLM put a stop to livestock grazing along the Escalante River decades ago, they intend to put cattle back into this fragile riparian zone, which will wipe out years of ecological recovery.

Key Talking Points for Both Monuments

— The process to adopt new management plans is illegal and should not proceed until litigation is resolved regarding the legality of the presidential proclamations to reduce the size of each monument under the Antiquities Act.

— Planning for new monument boundaries wastes taxpayer money and agency time, and should wait until the court cases are resolved. BLM resources should be spent now to protect the natural and cultural resources in the monuments.

— If BLM proceeds to adopt management plans before litigation is complete, Alternative B is the preferred choice for each monument, as it is the most protective of the values for which the monuments were designated.

— Any actions within the original monuments’ boundaries must substantially advance the proper care and management of the objects of interest as set forth in the 1996 Proclamation creating Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the 2016 Proclamation creating Bears Ears National Monument.

— The unusually dark skies and scenic vistas must be managed as an entirety to preserve these pristine and valued resources.

— Monument Management Plans must thoroughly analyze cumulative impacts, as well as direct and indirect impacts, on cultural resources and values.

Specific to Bears Ears NM – Deadline November 15

— BLM should manage for the protection of the entire Bears Ears landscape for cultural and paleontological resources. New sites are constantly being discovered or identified; BLM should not manage to protect only the currently surveyed sites, but also commit to ongoing inventory and management.

— Almost ¾ of the archaeological sites in the original Bears Ears National Monument have been removed from the Shash Jaa’ and Indian Creek units. These sites are now without the protections provided through a national monument; and, these areas should only be managed as an entire unit. The cultural story of this area will never be understood if it is slashed into pieces.

— Bears Ears is our nation’s only monument designated by request of Native American tribes. Any management plan must incorporate extensive consultation with legitimate and sovereign tribal governments and tribally appointed authorities.

— The agency, in co-management with the interested Tribes, should maintain the option to close or reroute social trails when cultural resources are threatened, instead of relying primarily on educational principles for the public.

— BLM should manage identified lands with wilderness characteristics for wilderness values, as this provides protection for cultural resources, paleontological resources, and other irreplaceable Monument objects.

— BLM and USFS should consider an additional alternative that extends management for the entire Bears Ears National Monument boundaries, as outlined in President Obama’s 2016 proclamation. 85% of the original Bears Ears boundaries cannot be left out in the cold through this planning process while the legality of Trump’s Proclamation is being challenged in court.

Additional talking points from Utah Diné Bikeyah HERE.

Additional talking points from Grand Canyon Trust HERE.

Specific to Grand Staircase-Escalante – Deadline November 30

— BLM should not open any lands to irreversible damage from oil and gas development, coal, tar sands, or other mining or energy infrastructure.

— BLM should manage lands with wilderness characteristics to protect wilderness values, as this provides protection for paleontological resources, scenic vistas, and other irreplaceable Monument objects.

— All motorized travel routes within the planning area that were closed or limited under the 1999 Monument management plan must continue to be managed pursuant to that plan and BLM should take the opportunity to close routes that are harming Monument objects. Widespread off-road vehicle use should not be allowed, and no additional routes should be designated in the planning area. Designating the Little Desert area as an open off-road vehicle “play” area is unacceptable and should not be permitted.

— BLM should keep the Monument and the Kaibab-Escalante Planning Area closed to casual collection of fossils. As BLM admits, this approach damages fossils and risks irreversible destruction to both known and yet to be discovered resources.

— BLM should consider new proposals consistent with protecting Monument objects, such as designation of new areas of critical conservation concern, adopting a sustainable approach to grazing, or developing adaptive approaches to climate change.

— BLM should NOT make the Escalante River available to livestock grazing. Decades ago, BLM retired grazing in the Escalante River canyons. Willing ranchers accepted payment from the Grand Canyon Trust to retire grazing in 59,000 acres in the Escalante River canyons, roughly 3% of the monument.  This retirement was supported by the governor and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. In the past decade, nearly a thousand volunteers and conservation workers (including Broads) have been working to remove Russian olive tree from these canyons.  The result has been a remarkable recovery of native cottonwood trees, willows, and grasses and forbs. With this recovery, the wildlife is rebounding.  BLM’s plan to bring grazing to these canyons would undo this ecological recovery.  A few months of heavy grazing is likely to eliminate decades of ecological recovery in one or two seasons.

— Ask for improved grazing management by incorporating the Sustainable Grazing Alternative submitted by Great Old Broads, Grand Canyon Trust, and The Wilderness Society. The 1999 Monument Management Plan did not include grazing management, and BLM claims the new management plan will address grazing.

Additional talking points from GSENM partners HERE.