Bears Ears

Bears Ears.  You’ve all heard of it by now, right?  The Bears Ears are a pair of mesas located in San Juan County in southeastern Utah. They are were protected as part of and the namesake of the Bears Ears National Monument, managed by the Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service.

Bears Ears-1On December 4th, 2017, Donald Trump signed Proclamation 9558, an executive order to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument—home to ancient cliff dwellings, Native American cultural sites, and iconic wildlife—by 85 percent.  And the proclamation does not stop with Bears Ears, but also includes a number of other national monuments including the Moki Steps, Native American ceremonial sites, tools and projectile points, remains of single-family dwellings, granaries, kivas, towers, large villages, rock shelters, caves, and a prehistoric road system, as well as petroglyphs, pictographs, and recent rock art left by the Ute, Navajo, and Paiute peoples.  It also identifies other types of historic objects, such as remnants of Native American sheep-herding and farming operations and early engineering by pioneers and settlers, including smoothed sections of rock, dugways, historic cabins, corrals, trails, and inscriptions carved into rock, and the Hole-in-the-Rock and Outlaw Trails.

Why would he do that?  Because he wants to open that land to destructive coal mining, as well as oil and gas drilling.  It’s all about money, folks.  Destroy the land to put greenbacks in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry barons.

The lands of southeastern Utah have been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years. It’s a majestic region of sandstone canyons, desert mesas, forested highlands, and red rock formations. One area in particular, named for twin buttes that resemble the ears of a bear, contains ancient cliff dwellings, rock art, and more than 100,000 other archaeological, cultural, and spiritual sites. They attest to varied and diverse American civilizations that existed long before the first Europeans arrived.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents the authority to designate national monuments. It does not empower them to slice up monuments designated by others.  A lawsuit has been filed by a conservation group, Earthjustice.  The suit claims that because the president’s authority to create national monuments is delegated by Congress under the Antiquities Act, monument proclamations carry the force of law and cannot be reversed by later presidents. Therefore, Trump lacks the authority to gut a national monument that belongs to all Americans.  Earthjustice represents a coalition of conservation groups in the suit: The Wilderness Society, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Now, you might expect that Utah lawmakers would be incensed over this assault on their state, yes?  Well, think again.  Mitt Romney applauds Trump’s decision and in an interview on Monday said that he thinks the Antiquities Act, the federal law that grants presidential authority to designate such monuments, needs significant revisions, voicing support of a new law to require any large monuments over a certain acreage to first be approved by state legislatures.

Mike Noel, Idiot Extraordinaire

But here is the one that galls me the most, and literally had me growling as I researched for this post.  Mike Noel is a member of the Utah House of Representatives.  Mr. Noel liked Trump’s proclamation so much that he has written a proposal to rename the 631-mile-long Utah National Parks Highway.  And just what would Mr. Noel wish to name the highway?  The “Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway”. Noel said Trump wasn’t getting enough credit for his efforts. Passing this proposal, Noel said, was a chance to give it to him. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Then he went on to say …

“I think he’s done a tremendous amount, and I think with seven more years we can turn this country around.  I think it’s a small price to pay to name a highway after him when he does in fact protect public lands.”

If we have another seven years of Trump, I can guarantee that I will either be a) residing in another country, b) in prison for murder, or c) dead.

The aforementioned lawsuit by Earthjustice is not the only one; in fact there are currently five lawsuits on the dockets:

  1. Hopi Tribe et al v. Trump et al• Filed: Federal district court in D.C.• Plaintiffs: Five American Indian tribes (Hopi, Navajo, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni).• Defendants: President Donald Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, acting Bureau of Land Management Director Brian Steed, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke.• Argument: Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president does not have the legal authority to revoke or modify a monument — only to designate one. Additionally, the tribes say the 1.35 million acres set aside by President Barack Obama holds spiritual significance and contains cultural artifacts that deserve protection at the threat of looting, grave-robbing, vandalism and development. • Seeking: Injunctive relief “requiring President Trump to rescind his proclamation, or prohibiting him from enforcing or implementing it in any way.”
  2. Utah Dine Bikeyah et al v. Trump et al • Filed: Federal district court in D.C. • Plaintiffs: A broad coalition representing American Indian tribes, recreation interests and paleontologists (Utah Dine Bikeyah, Patagonia Works, Friends of Cedar Mesa, Archaeology Southwest, Conservation Lands Foundation, Access Fund, Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, National Trust for Historic Preservation). • Defendants: Trump, Zinke, Steed, Perdue, Tooke. • Argument: Reducing the 1.35 million-acre monument would threaten hundreds of historical rock art panels, artifacts, pueblos and kivas. For its part, Patagonia insists the cuts would hurt the company financially by taking away recreation areas that provide “some of the best rock climbing in North America” used by its customers. Development in the area, adds Friends of Cedar Mesa, would mean “direct and immediate harm” to the paleontological hot spots within the monument’s boundaries, and oil and gas drilling would “result in the destruction and degradation” of the ecosystem. • Seeking: An order requiring Trump to restore the original monument and bar his administration from acting on the reconfigured designations.
  3. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. et al v. Donald J. Trump et al • Filed: Federal district court in D.C. • Plaintiffs: 11 conservation groups (The Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance). • Defendants: Trump, Zinke, Steed, Perdue, Tooke. • Argument: Trimming the monument would threaten “irreplaceable” archaeological artifacts and damage paleontology sites. • Seeking: Injunctive relief to block mining and oil and gas drilling on the land.
  4. The Wilderness Society et al v. Donald J. Trump et al • Filed: Federal district court in D.C. • Plaintiffs: 10 environmental groups (The Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Grand Canyon Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity). • Defendants: Trump, Zinke, Steed. • Argument: The lawsuit alleges Trump is stripping protection for land that would leave “remarkable fossil, cultural, scenic and geological treasures exposed to immediate and ongoing harm.” That includes the Kaiparowits Plateau, which holds abundant coal deposits and is a paleontological treasure trove. • Seeking: Injunctive relief to stop Trump’s proclamations from taking effect so that no permits are issued for oil and gas leasing or coal and mineral mining.
  5. Grand Staircase Escalante Partners et al v. Trump et al • Filed: Federal district court in D.C. • Plaintiffs: Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Conservation Lands Foundation. • Defendants: Trump, Zinke. • Argument: Removing protection from nearly 900,000 acres in the monument would threaten “sensitive resources located there,” including plant and bee species, archaeological artifacts and geological formations. The president’s actions were illegal. • Seeking: An injunction to stop Trump and Zinke from “recognizing, enforcing or otherwise carrying out” the downsized designations.

Trump must be thrilled, for lawsuits have defined most of his adult life!

Note that not one of these lawsuits is asking for money, they are simply asking that Trump, Zinke, et al, leave our land alone.

The land, its beauty, once destroyed can never be replaced.  Coal mining?  The market for coal is ever-shrinking and will never again be a relevant factor, since renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are cleaner and more economical.  Drilling for oil and gas?  Sorry, but I cannot rationalize corporate profits over nature.  It isn’t just a matter of the beauty of the land, nor even the cultural and archeological sites.  But we do not know what wildlife may be affected and in what way.  We do not know what damage may be caused to water tables by the destruction of these lands.  In the grand scheme of things, when we take the time to consider the future of our planet, putting profit over nature is about the stupidest move we could make.  There is more to life than money, as most of us know.

55 thoughts on “Bears Ears

  1. Dear Jill,

    Thank God for the US courts which have been a real check on President Trump’s overreaching grab for power. I am hoping the courts protect these lands long enough for when democrats become the majority in the US Congress.
    I have a lot of faith in Mr. Mueller. I just wish this process wasn’t taking so long as the president needs to be stopped in his tracks, yesterday.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, this is why even though Trump hasn’t found time to fill many other slots, he has been appointing judges across the board, for he wants them in his corner. Hopefully, good sense and protecting the earth will be supported by the judges … so far they have come through, such as in the case of Trump’s Muslim ban.

      Mueller has to make absolute certain that he has all the ducks lined up properly, that he hasn’t missed anything, else his one shot at bringing Trump to his knees will have been all for naught. I think it may be several more months. Like you, I wish it could be sooner, for I fear what Trump may try to do once he finally faces up to the fact that he is likely going to be caught up in the net.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Arghhhhhh…. Your post made me gag. But that’s life here in Utah! You will be pleased to know that the powers that be nixed the name-the-highway game. It appears it will be named after John Huntsman Sr. who established the Huntsman Cancer Institute, It’s a marvelous place. My b-i-l was treated there. You know, I could have gotten on board with Romney a year ago, but now that he’s already cow-towing to Trump after the ass humiliated him last year, I’ve definitely changed my mind. Thank God I’m a registered Independent!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well … I don’t know that it was his intention, but he will basically try to destroy anybody who gets in his way, who stands between him and what he wants. He certainly wouldn’t be the first to disregard the best interests of the Native Americans … in fact he is disregarding the best interest of us all, in deference to his friends in the 1%. 😥

        Liked by 1 person

          • I wish I could answer that question! More than once, he has done something that I was sure would make his minions take off the blinders and see what is plain as the nose on their face, but … each time, they found ways to justify his behaviours and kept on praising him. I really don’t know if they believe what they say, or if they are simply too unwilling to admit that they made a mistake. And along those lines, if they don’t soon wake up, we may have an even bigger problem on our hands. Once Mueller finishes, or nearly finishes his investigation, and assuming all roads lead, as I believe they do, back to Trump himself, there can be no choice but to impeach. If the lemmings in the Trump camp are still convinced he is the greatest thing to happen to this nation, I fear their response … I envision bloodshed in the streets. An alarmist? Perhaps I am, but tensions are at an all-time high, and I cannot predict what might happen. Sigh.

            Liked by 1 person

              • Yes, I am getting tired too. Some days I have to force myself to even turn on the computer, knowing the first thing I am going to see is his face, accompanied by something that is sure to set me off. But, a bit of humour and an occasional glass of wine, plus a great bunch of friends & fellow-bloggers here, keep me coming back and fighting the fight. Hang in there, my friend!

                Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, I’m a transplant from Ohio to Utah. Dad got transferred here when I was 12. Talk about culture shock! You probably thought Ireland because I talked so much about our dream cruise around the UK that was scheduled for last September. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in June and was not in physical shape to do it. Maybe someday…

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ohio? What part? I am in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati. Transplanted here from New York and San Francisco, so this was also culture shock! I do hope you are getting well and that you get your dream cruise soon! Fingers crossed for you!


    • Ahhhh … so you are in Utah? Somehow, I have no idea why, I thought you lived in Ireland!!! Mea culpa! Though I disliked Romney when he ran against Obama in 2012, I came to respect him when he spoke up and said that Trump is unfit to serve as president (he was quite right, obviously). But now, he’s fallen into line like the rest of our elected representatives, licking Trump’s boots and saying, “yessir, Mr. Trump”, so I have zero respect for him.

      Yes, I read earlier this evening that the idea to name the highway after him had been shelved, and I was glad. The only thing that ought to be named for Trump is perhaps a landfill.

      I, too, am registered as an independent, though I mostly lean toward democratic candidates and their values, especially of late, since the republican candidates basically seem to have no values other than those in their investment portfolios.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree. Personally I think they have no moral values at all if they can condone Trump’s personal behavior. I usually do vote democrat. But I’m kind of disappointed in them in this administration. They just seem — confused and spineless.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think the Democratic Party is still trying to re-group after the 2016 defeat, which was totally unexpected. They made a number of mistakes in 2016, not the least of which was underestimating the ‘appeal’ that Trump had to a certain group … a rather large group, as it turned out … of voters. I think they are still scratching their heads and trying to figure that one out, as well as asking themselves, “where do we go from here?” I do hope they figure it out soon!


  3. We on the left need to relearn how to effect change through the application of political power. Our hearts are in the right place, but in recent decades our minds have gone wayward. Getting mad and protesting at Trump’s right-wing extremism is good because it shows we care, but it just isn’t enough. I realize many of us are opposed to playing the political game because it is so dirty, but unfortunately it’s the only practical way. Republicans now hold the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, most of the governorships, and most of the state legislatures in America. They achieved all this because they’re good at targeting specific goals and applying effective strategies and tactics. Our side is a mess. We’re fragmented and unrepresented by a major political party.

    The solution won’t be easy. We’ll either have to break the Democratic Party establishment from its love affair with big money, or replace it. Furthermore, we must start looking at the big picture and stop squabbling over secondary issues. When workers, consumers, environmentalists, secularists, and egalitarians of every type unite in this common goal, positive change will be possible.

    Sorry for the rant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No need to apologize, for I am in complete agreement! I have said many times that I am not as confident of a massive victory in the November mid-terms as many are, for I am not seeing a well-laid, effective plan or strategy by the DNC. They seem to me to still be reeling and a bit dazed over their 2016 loss, and have not found their way back yet. I think that our ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat in November may come more from the republicans putting forth some truly bad candidates and digging their own grave, than from anything the democrats have actually done. All of your points are valid here, and are most welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Robert A. Vella and Jill,
      Mr. Vella, I’m probably more conservative than you are, but I couldn’t agree more. I am befuddled over how the republicans march with their talking points in lock step where this appears impossible with democrats.
      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think, Gronda, that there are far too many distractions coming from every direction, and calculating a strategy to address them all is mind-boggling. It might take time to recoup and regroup from 2016, but unfortunately we don’t have time. In 241 days, ballots will be cast, a winner declared, and that is that for another 2 years. Fortunately, the republicans seem to want to help us overthrow them, but it may not be enough.


        Liked by 1 person

    • There you go! Interestingly, and I didn’t include this in the post, a state senator in Utah, Jim Dabakis (a democrat), said that if Noel named the highway after Trump, he would propose naming the frontage road the “Stormy Daniels Rampway”. Oh my, how low we have all sunk! 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think the world can take 7 more years of Trump, for he is destroying everything in his path, and some things that aren’t even near his path! I think … and this is just my belief based on what little I know … that by the end of 2018, impeachment proceedings will have begun. Hopefully we can keep doing damage control in the courts until he is ousted. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

        • True, but my thoughts are that if Mueller comes up with the evidence that I believe he will, there will be no justification for failing to impeach. Granted, I may be making some assumptions that may prove invalid, and one assumption I am making is that if he is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to have colluded, or been aware of collusion, with Russia, then the majority of people will demand his impeachment. We The People have surprised me before, and not in a pleasant way, and they might be as willing to tolerate his treason as they are tolerating his multiple extramarital affairs and sexual harassment. If they just shrug their shoulders, then all bets are off and I will have once again mis-predicted. Sigh. I do so hope I’m right this time, though. 🤔🚬

          Liked by 1 person

          • I agree the only real chance of short-circuiting this presidency is if Mueller comes through with a strong indictment. I am totally skeptical of Senate impeachment votes – look how they let Bill Clinton off the hook when he was totally guilty. It’s really difficult to predict what the Republicans will do – although I was heartened that they seem ready to oppose his stupid tariffs. Hugs, Jill!

            Liked by 1 person

            • True … the only other real hope is that he finally keels over! Yes, I’m capable of cruel thoughts from time to time, though I don’t much like that side of me. Y’know … I actually glad the senate didn’t vote to oust Clinton. For one thing, Monica Lewinski was complicit in their affair, hoping to gain from her ‘favours’, but also because Clinton was doing a good job, and I didn’t think Gore had what it took. Trump’s case is much different, but isn’t it funny how much worse the things Trump has done are than Clinton, and yet few in Congress will even talk about impeachment? Ah well. Yes, I am pleased to see how appalled some of the republicans in Congress are about his proposed tariffs. Not that he cares. Sigh. It needs to end soon. Heck, even Nixon and Reagan are starting to look good!

              Liked by 1 person

  4. My dearest friend .., it gives me some kinda hope that the courts are on this! Seems only the judicial branch is working in the checks and balances in this nation.
    ‘If we have another seven years of Trump, I can guarantee that I will either be a) residing in another country, b) in prison for murder, or c) dead.’ … I guarantee I’d be in any of there places with you!! Hugs … ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    This is a reckless decision that goes straight to the heart of America!!
    ‘ A lawsuit has been filed by a conservation group, Earthjustice. The suit claims that because the president’s authority to create national monuments is delegated by Congress under the Antiquities Act, monument proclamations carry the force of law and cannot be reversed by later presidents. ‘
    Mike Noel is a member of the Utah House of Representatives. Mr. Noel liked Trump’s proclamation so much that he has written a proposal to rename the 631-mile-long Utah National Parks Highway. And just what would Mr. Noel wish to name the highway? The “Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway”.
    … and to name a highway after the FIDIOT? … Beyond comprehension!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for the re-blog, my friend! Yes, this is yet another in a long string of abominable acts by the buffoon who claims to be president. The idea to name a highway after him … just simply floored me. I kid you not, I was growling and Chris just looked at me and said, “What’s he done now?” If there is any justice, the courts will smack him down hard on this one. Fingers crossed! Hugs, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can only hope the courts rule against Trump and charge him for plaintiffs costs. I feel something I didn’t think I could any more, actual hate for this money grubbing , tantrum having, foot stamping moron who thinks of a very small minority of people over the vast population entrusted to him.

    Liked by 3 people

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