By: Korrin L. Bishop
Hints of the Trump Administration’s plans to shrink Bears Ears National Monument have danced around for months. On December 4, the President made those plans explicit. Along with Grand Staircase-Escalante, President Trump announced that he’d be reducing these two Utah monuments by about two million acres—stripping away about 85% of Bears Ears and 50% of Grand Staircase-Escalante. According to The New York Times, this is “the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.”
As backpackers, outdoor enthusiasts, and allies of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, we need to stand up for our national monuments. Here’s a quick guide to get you started.
Photo source: Bureau of Land Management
It’s not effective to blindly retweet graphics about your Trump outrage and love of public lands. You need to truly know the issues for which you’re advocating. Take some time, step away from the sound bites, and make sure to read and learn about the issue:
- Know the different types of public land designations, and how they’re formed.
- Learn about the cultural significance of these lands to Native Americans, and make sure you’re elevating those voices as much as you can. The Native American Rights Fund and Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition are excellent resources.
- Read up on current reports about the issue from publications, such as Sierra Magazine. Understand what the impacts of this change could be should activities, such as mining or oil and gas extraction, begin on these lands.
As you learn about the issue, share what you’ve learned with friends, family members, colleagues, that guy at the gym, the woman you see at the grocery store, and, yes, all the social media webs of the internet. Help others understand what’s at stake so that they may raise their voice, too. In addition:
- The Sierra Club has made contacting your representatives in Congress about this issue really easy. Get started HERE.
- The Access Fund also has an active list of campaigns for our public lands. Learn more HERE.
If you can give, give. Many organizations are working very hard to fight these recent events, and they need our support. Here are just a few:
- Friends of Cedar Mesa
- Native American Rights Fund
- The Bears Ears “Visit With Respect” Education Center Kickstarter
- Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners
- Sierra Club
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- The Wilderness Society
It has been a difficult week for public lands, but by taking the time to lend support to the cause, we all can help preserve these environmental and cultural treasures for many years to come.
Korrin L. Bishop is a freelance writer with a focus on environment, outdoor recreation, and social justice. She has publications in Misadventures, Adventure Journal, and Sierra Magazine. Learn more about her work on her website.