On December 28, 2016, Bear Ears National Monument was created by President Barrack Obama through a presidential proclamation. The monument is located in San Juan city in southeastern Utah. The monument protects about 547,074 hectares of public land. In December 2017, President Trump ordered the size of the Bears Ears National Monument to be reduced.
The Bear Ears National Monument is a unique and spiritual place for the five natives tribes of Ute Indian tribe, Ute mountain, Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni. To them, the land contains their ancestral history and it is their ancestral land. The tribes trace back their roots to the land covering the Bears ears national monument. The land has cave dwelling of their ancestors, stone art, 100,000 archaeological sites, and ancient artifacts that date back to several centuries. The land is also home to the native tribes and wildlife such as black bears, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, desert cottontails, and other wildlife that roam the vast land of the Bear ears national monument. Bears Ears Monument lies partly in Monticello and it is jointly managed by the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management together with the 5 local Native Americans.
Herbert, the Governor of Utah, signed a resolution in February 2017 that had been passed by the state legislature seeking President Trump to disband the designation of Bears Ears as a national monument. Accordingly, in December 2017, President Donald Trump ordered the reduction in size of the Bears Ears National Monument. The reduction is to pave the way for extraction of the natural resources of oil, uranium, and gases available on the land. However, there is uncertainty because it is not clear if the president has the authority to rescind a monument that has been designated by the Antiquities Act, since that has never happened in the US before. Those arguing against decision say that the extraction of the resources will ultimately destroy the land and archaeological sites.
The Bear Ears National Monument contains vast lands which are undeveloped. The land is home to the bighorn sheep, mountain lions, desert cottontail, black bears, peregrine falcons, antelopes, and more than 15 species of bats. The fact that the land is undeveloped means that there is a wide range of wildlife roaming the land without being pushed out of their natural habitat.
Bears Ears National Monument has several features that make it unique. The land has high plateaus canyons and different types of landscape. The pair of buttes which gave the monument the name, Bear Ears, have an elevation of 8,700 feet. Another unique feature is that the land has 100,000 archaeological sites which date back to the 12,000 BCE. Some of the unique sites are the Valley of the Gods, thousands of years old rock art, cliff dwellings believed to be 3500 years old, red rock canyons, and stunning arches.
The monument has several sites which attract many tourists. Grand Gulch and Cedar Mesa have dwellings of the native Pueblo Indians in their natural state. The dwellings were built on the sides of the mesa, caves, and mountains. The Valley of the Gods, located within National Monument near Mexican Hat, has idyllic sandstone structures which are unique. The surrounding area is undeveloped and suitable for hiking activities. Other interesting sites are the Canyon Lands National Park, the magnificent cedar mesa, and Newspaper Rock, which has art engraved on stones. There are also tours and hikes available for tourists to explore Bears Ears National Monument.
The archaeological sites are being looted, and graves dug. People steal the artifacts available on the land and sell them. The looting and digging destroy the integrity of the archaeological sites which have not been studied by archaeologists. It is also an insult to the heritage of the native communities. Other threats are caused by uneducated visitors who destroy the environment and some take artifacts home as souvenirs.
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