Bears Ears, a 1.35-million-acre swath of desert and canyons in southern Utah, has become the United States’ most controversial national monument. But how did it get that way? We delve into its history to paint a picture of one of America’s most high-profile public lands fights.
Following years of archeological thefts and damage from ATV riders and other users, five tribes—the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Hopi Tribe, and Uinta and Ouray Ute Indian Tribe—ask President Obama to create a new 1.9-million-acre national monument protecting Bears Ears.
President Obama establishes Bears Ears National Monument by executive order, protecting a 1.35-million-acre area and giving tribal groups an active role in administering it. Utah legislators, including Rep. Rob Bishop and Sen. Orrin Hatch decry the new monument as federal overreach.
After Utah Governor Gary Herbert signs a resolution calling on President Donald Trump to rescind Bears Ears’ designation as a national monument, Patagonia announces it will boycott the twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City until it moves out of state. Several other brands, including Arc’teryx and Polartec, soon follow suit.
Days after Patagonia’s boycott, the organizers of Outdoor Retailer announce that the trade show will leave Utah in response to its public lands policies. The show has since moved to Denver.
President Trump orders the Department of the Interior to conduct a review of 26 national monuments, including Bears Ears.
In a press conference, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he will recommend that President Trump shrink Bears Ears National Monument. He does not release his report publicly or specify what changes it contains.
Administration officials say that President Trump will officially announce plans to shrink Bears Ears, as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, at an appearance in Salt Lake City on December 4. Native American activists and conservation groups immediately announce that they will sue to block the decision.