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Reps. Ruben Gallego and Deb Haaland Re-Introduce Bill to Protect Bears Ears National Monument

January 30, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) and Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01) re-introduced a bill to restore and expand protections for the Bears Ears National Monument.

In 2017, the Trump Administration took drastic, unprecedented steps to illegally shrink the monument, leaving 85% of the land unprotected. The Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty Act would not only protect the original land previously designated by President Obama but also expand Bears Ears to the full 1.9 million acres of land identified by local tribes as containing sacred artifacts and cultural resources. Finally, the legislation would restore tribal consultation by requiring federal land managers to use tribal expertise to manage the monument’s lands and protect over 100,000 archaeological and cultural sites in the area.

The bill has more than 70 original cosponsors, and has been endorsed by the Bears Ears Inter-tribal Coalition, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, The Wilderness Society, Conservation Lands Foundation, Earthjustice, League of Conservation Voters, National Parks Conservation Association, Grand Canyon Trust, Utah Diné Bikéyah and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) said, “No national treasure is under more threat from the Trump Administration’s effort to sell off priceless public lands to the highest bidder than Bears Ears National Monument. The 1.9 million acres that our legislation would permanently protect include over 100,000 Native American archaeological and sacred sites. I’m proud to lead the fight to permanently safeguard the rich history and culture of the indigenous people who lived in the area for millennia. It is our moral responsibility to hold these lands in trust for future generations.”

Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01) said, “Bears Ears National Monument is a treasure that I’ve seen with my own eyes. Part of the mission of public lands is to protect sacred sites and preserve them for future generations, but under the current boundaries at Bears Ears National  Monument those sites are at risk of disappearing forever. We can fulfill the mission of public lands and protect the culture and history of our country by ensuring the monument encompasses those areas.”

The Navajo Nation said, “The Navajo Nation appreciates the efforts of Representatives Gallego and Haaland to restore our tribal voices on the Bears Ear landscape and to lend our vision to the land’s management.”

The Hopi Tribe said, “The Hopi Tribe appreciates Representatives Gallego and Haaland’s efforts to protect the sacred landscape that is Bears Ears. It is encouraging to see Congress working towards safeguarding our most cherished landscapes instead of dismantling them.”

Dan Hartinger, National Monuments Campaign Director for the Wilderness Society said, “We applaud Reps. Gallego and Haaland and the cosponsors of this forward-looking bill to fully protect the Bears Ears region and honor the wishes of the five sovereign tribal nations who fought for years to protect their ancestral lands and sacred sites. These congressional leaders are advancing a vision that reflects the overwhelming public sentiment of millions of Americans – in stark contrast to President Trump’s illegal attempt to eliminate 85 percent of Bears Ears National Monument. It’s time to fully protect these irreplaceable lands and cultural resources for future generations.”

Heidi McIntosh, Managing Attorney of the Rocky Mountain Office, Earthjustice, said, “Representatives Gallego and Haaland and their colleagues deserve our thanks for standing up to protect Bears Ears National Monument, a national treasure whose vast beauty and cultural significance embody the spirit and history of the American southwest. Millions of people across the country voiced their support for protecting our national monuments during President Trump’s monuments review, but the administration chose to ignore the letter of the law and the voices of the public to cater to big oil and mining – including uranium mining, which has harmed so many people in this region. The Trump Administration may never listen to the voices of the defenders of our wild places, but public lands champions in Congress can.”

Lisa Pike, VP of Environmental Activism, Patagonia, said, “Being able to explore wild places is why Patagonia was founded, and our business now depends on keeping our lands and waters protected. Patagonia applauds Reps. Gallego and Haaland’s leadership and efforts to not only protect Bears Ears National Monument but to expand it to the full 1.9 million acres originally identified by the local tribes. The Trump Administration’s illegal decision to revoke national monument status for 85% of the area protected by the Bears Ears National Monument removed legal protections for many well-known and widely-revered historic, scientific, and cultural areas and betrayed our shared responsibility to protect iconic places for future generations.”