• Ancestral Places of Southeast Utah on This Year's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

    May 30, 2019

    Each year, the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places sheds light on important examples of our nation’s heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. Over 300 places have been listed in its 32-year history, and in that time, fewer than 5 percent of listed sites have been lost.

    On this year’s list is Ancestral Places of Southeast Utah. Archaeologists believe this area to be one of the country’s most culturally rich but unprotected landscapes open to oil and gas extraction.

    In the last two years, the Bureau of Land Management dramatically escalated leasing activity in the region, despite concerns from the National Trust, affected tribes, and our regional partners.

    Send a letter to the Department of the Interior urging them to recognize the cultural significance of these lands.

  • San Juan County Commission Changes Stance on Bears Ears

    April 18, 2019

    On April 16, 2019, the San Juan County Commission filed a motion in federal court to withdraw from the lawsuits challenging the current administration’s plan to downsize Bears Ears National Monument. The County had previously intervened in support of the administration’s revocation of Bears Ears. The County changed its position following the outcome of last November’s elections. Two out of three of the county’s commissioners are now Navajo.

    In February, the commission also passed two resolutions—one that rescinded previous resolutions opposing the creation of the Bears Ears National Monument or calling for its reduction, and another that directed the San Juan County Attorney to withdraw the county’s involvement in this lawsuit.

    Taken together, these actions demonstrate forward movement in saving this National Treasure from looting, vandalism, and incompatible oil and gas development.

  • Federal Government Defers Lands Near Bears Ears from Oil and Gas Leasing

    April 2, 2019

    The National Trust, tribes, and local preservation advocacy partners deferred 19 parcels from an oil and gas lease sale on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in southeastern Utah. For over a decade, we fought to win protections for this remarkable cultural landscape, which contains sites inextricably linked to Bears Ears and constitutes a critical part of its history. Yet over the last two years, BLM threatened significant long-term damage to these lands, dramatically increasing oil and gas leasing activity in the area east of Highway 191.

    BLM did not cancel these lease sales entirely, but instead instituted a temporary deferral for approximately six months to conduct additional environmental analysis. Still, the news is a relief for indigenous people with ancestral ties to the area, including the Acoma Pueblo, the All Pueblo Governors Council, and the Hopi Tribe, who objected strenuously to this and other recent lease sales near Bears Ears. BLM indicated that subsequent consultation is likely to involve the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and tribes and other preservation advocates will have an opportunity to provide further input.

    The National Trust is committed to ensuring that BLM takes the views of people affected by oil and gas leasing in the region seriously, and that BLM honors its “responsibility for the preservation of historic property that is owned or controlled by the agency.” 54 U.S.C. § 306101(a)(1).

    We’ve had additional concerns with BLM’s justification of its “no adverse effects” determinations, including:

    • Drawing arbitrary and overly narrow limits for assessing effects on cultural resources (half a mile surrounding each parcel);
    • Making a limited effort to identify the extent and value of cultural resources included in the parcels to be leased (currently only requiring a review of existing literature);
    • Refusing to assess the significance of individual cultural resources as part of National Register districts;
    • Failing to consider impacts to the Alkali Ridge National Historic Landmark; and
    • Failing to consider the cumulative effects of oil and gas drilling surrounding Bears Ears.

    BLM has more work ahead to assure the public and tribes that it will minimize harm to priceless cultural resources and artifacts before they lease the land in question. In collaboration with local partners and tribes, the National Trust hopes to expand this temporary reprieve into significant and lasting protections for this extraordinary cultural landscape.

  • Coalition Waiting for Court Decision in Motion to Dismiss

    March 19, 2019

    Since the lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s revocation of the Bears Ears National Monument was filed in December 2017, legal briefing in the case has been ongoing. After an unsuccessful effort to transfer the case to federal court in Utah, the government has now sought to have the case dismissed entirely.

    Last Friday, on March 15, 2019, the final briefs on the issue of dismissal were filed. The National Trust’s Memorandum in Opposition to Dismissal filed last fall clearly outlines the reasons why the court should hear this case, uphold the integrity of the Antiquities Act and protect Bears Ears National Monument.

  • National Trust Expresses Support of Bears Ears National Monument to Congress—Add Your Voice!

    March 13, 2019

    On March 13, the House National Resources Committee will hold an oversight hearing, “Forgotten Voices: The Inadequate Review and Improper Alteration of Our National Monuments” to examine the Trump Administration’s reduction of the protected areas at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments.

    The hearing will include remarks by representatives from the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which is made up of Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute Indian Tribe, and the Pueblo of Zuni. The hearing will also include witnesses representing the Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, outdoor recreationists, and a paleontologist, among others.

    The National Trust, which named Bears Ears a National Treasure in 2014 and is a party to a lawsuit challenging the president’s action, will be submitting testimony for consideration by the Committee. The National Trust has strongly opposed President Trump’s reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument as a violation of the executive authority vested by the Antiquities Act, a rejection of the overwhelming public support for the original monument designation, and a dishonor to Native American heritage and culture.

    To add your voice to the call for careful stewardship of priceless cultural landscapes like Bears Ears, please take a minute to register your support for the Antiquities Act, one of America’s bedrock conservation and preservation laws.

1 - 5 of 25 updates

Announcing the 2019 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

See the List