The Department of the Interior is accepting public comments on the Bears Ears National Monument designation in Utah for ONLY TWO MORE DAYS. If you have a few moments, please consider leaving a comment to let Secretary Zinke know that you support the protection of this special place and help send the message that we need to preserve more public land now, not less. Here are two options for sharing a comment:
- You can submit a personally drafted comment here.
- If you are pressed for time, you can also easily customize a prepared form letter here.
The following three photographers have shared their eloquent and thoughtful messages about protecting Bears Ears, each of which you can find in the links below:
- Greg Russell - In Defense of Bears Ears National Monument
- Jackson Frishman - Support National Monuments!
- Dave Showalter - An Open Letter to Secretary Zinke
- Helpful background information from the Grand Canyon Trust
I had hoped to write something like Greg, Jackson, and Dave but have simply run out of time. So, here is a rough draft of my finished but not terribly inspiring comment I plan to submit later today.
Dear Secretary Zinke:
I am writing to you from southwestern Colorado, only a short distance from Canyons of the Ancient National Monument – another monument under review despite strong local support for its designation. That is a matter for a different letter, as today I am writing to strongly support keeping the Bears Ears National Monument designation in place.
I am an income-earning landscape photographer and I depend on access to and the preservation of public lands for my livelihood. In my photography-related travels, two sites in the Cedar Mesa area of Bears Ears National Monument are the first backcountry archaeological sites I ever visited. With very vague directions, (and no established trail at the time), we set off by heading up a colorful sandstone canyon lined with junipers and other high desert plants. I remember coming upon the first ruin, tucked in an alcove under a spectacular overhang of fluted sandstone, and feeling a sense of awe, wonder, and a desire to learn more about the people who once called this place home. This is the kind of experience and place that we as a society should be preserving in perpetuity.
Bears Ears National Monument contains thousands of archaeological sites and spectacular wilderness – exactly the kind of place that the Antiquities Act was designed to protect. The process to create Bears Ears was comprehensive and inclusive, with a significant base of support among the tribes that consider the land sacred, local residents, and Utahans in general. Additionally, the Conservation in the West Poll, a bi-partisan poll of people living in western states, suggests that 80% of westerners want to keep monument designations - like Bears Ears - in place.
With regard to commercial interests, the energy industry is too often prioritized over different kinds of businesses, like those of landscape photographers, wilderness guides, outfitters, restaurants, hotels, and others catering to visitors. The tourism industry in Utah generates more state and local revenues, and significantly more jobs, than does the energy industry. Bears Ears National Monument is not the place for the mining of coal or uranium or the extraction of oil or natural gas. Instead, it is a sacred place full of irreplaceable cultural artifacts and wilderness quality land that deserves to be protected while maintaining access for local tribes, private landowners, and visitors with a priority for preservation.
Thank you for your consideration of this comment offered in strong support of preserving the Bears Ears National Monument designation.
If you share a comment on Bears Ears or the other monuments under review, please let us know in the comments. We welcome the opportunity to see your thoughts on this topic.