Thomas Crager: Bears Ears and land grabs | Opinion – Arizona News

Thomas Crager: Bears Ears and land grabs | Opinion – Arizona News

Editor: The editorial of July 26 on national monuments review struck a chord with me. Of interest was the “Bears Ears National Monument” ordered by President Obama just before he “left office” last January.

I have hiked and explored these areas of Southeast Utah for many years, the goal being photographing and researching the many cliff dwellings and rock art sites the environmentalists are concerned about. I feel the State and BLM have done a reasonable job protecting these archaeologically sensitive areas with few exceptions. I wasn’t opposed with maybe including Bears Ears as a National Monument if they used the Antiquities Act of 1906 as a guideline. That is, the bill for Bears Ears National Monument “shall be the smallest area necessary for the care and maintenance of the objects to be preserved”.

Arriving in the Bluff/Blanding area near Bears Ears this April for hiking and a few site visits, I was astounded when I viewed a map of the “New Bears Ears” National Monument. The monument removes about 25% of land area from San Juan County, government overreach at its meanest. Instead of just the Bears Ears area, the National Monument spreads to the south from Mexican Hat 90 miles north to near Moab, Utah, removing a huge hunk of land from its potential growth. 1.35 million acres taken!

As a frequent visitor to these areas, I feel this is far too excessive of a land grab and I hope it is scaled back to a reasonable area. Worries over sensitive areas being over-visited and damaged should continue to be handled by…

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