Southern Utah monuments in danger of disappearing?

Feb 6, 2020, 1:57 PM
Utah monuments shrinking finalized...
The Interior Department has finalized management plans for Bears Ears National Monument (pictured above) and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

KANAB, Utah — A pair of Southern Utah monuments are being subject to dangerous pollutants, according to a state conservation group.

Both Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument have long been the topic of debate.

At the heart of the conversation is how much land should be protected and what activities should be allowed near the protected areas.

Shrinking size

In recent years, the amount of protected area has progressively shrunk.

“Bears Ears National Monument went from 1.3-million-acres under President Obama to roughly 200,000-acres under President Trump,” explains Steve Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

In addition to its natural beauty, a number of Native American nations consider the land to be sacred.

“This is one of the wildest, quietest [and] darkest landscapes in the nation,” he says.

Conservation groups have not only grown weary of the shrinking size of the Southern Utah monuments, but also the destructive activity that is happening in close proximity.

Bloch says areas that used to be protected are quickly being developed. Those activities don’t happen in a bubble and have long-reaching effects that can negatively impact protected land.

“Now the priority on those lands is new leasing for coal, for oil, gas, new hard rock mining,” he says. “There’s going to be water and air pollution.”

Both sides of the debate

Meanwhile, the Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have pushed back on this narrative. They say the nearby lands are still protected by federal environmental laws.

“With these decisions, we are advancing our goal to restore trust and be a good neighbor,” says Casey Hammond with the Interior Department.

Grand Staircase was first designated as a national monument in 1996 by President Clinton. While twenty years later President Obama established Bears Ears.

For conservation groups, like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, these proposed developments will negate the work done in the past.

“These outstanding dark-night skies [and] the silence that encompasses this area, that’s all going to change,” says Bloch.

Today’s Top Stories


Former Vice President Mike Pence is seen here with audience members after appearing at at CNN town ...
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Pence says Trump was ‘wrong’ for dinner with Holocaust denier

Former Vice President Mike Pence says former President Donald Trump was wrong for having dinner with a Holocaust denier and should apologize for it.
11 hours ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
4 days ago
Dozens of residents were displaced after fire at a low income apartment complex in Richfield, Utah....
Mark Jones

American Red Cross of Utah seeks volunteers in central Utah

The American Red Cross of Utah is seeking volunteers in central Utah after a fire in Richfield earlier this week displaced 35 families.
4 days ago
On Thanksgiving Day, Crave Cookies donated to the Utah County Jail and The Salvation Army hosted me...
Waverly Golden

Thanksgiving Day donations and volunteering

On Thanksgiving Day, Crave Cookies donated to the Utah County Jail and The Salvation Army hosted meal preparation and delivery to Utah families.
4 days ago
Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin Candy Bomber, poses for a photo in the backyard of his Provo home days b...
Waverly Golden

Utahn helps non-profit with modern day “Candy Bomber” operation

In memory of "The Candy Bomber," a fundraiser hopes to supply Christmas presents to refugee children in Berlin and Ukraine.
6 days ago
A duck swims in the pond at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. Photo credi...
Mark Jones

Pond at Liberty Park drained for necessary repairs

The pond at Liberty Park has been drained for needed repairs. It is expected repairs on the pond should be completed by the end of December.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Southern Utah monuments in danger of disappearing?