Navajo Officials Urge Withdrawal of Federal Bears Ears Bill

Feb 15, 2018

Navajo President Russell Begaye is urging a Utah Congressman to withdraw a bill to officially shrink Bears Ears National Monument. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, tribal officials say the legislation threatens a culturally and religiously sensitive area

The 1.3-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument was declared by Pres. Obama in 2016. In early February, Pres. Trump's executive order went into effect shrinking it by 85 percent. Five Southwestern tribes consider it a historically and culturally significant area.
Credit Witold Skrypczak/Getty Images

The bill introduced by Republican John Curtis would codify into federal law President Trump’s order to shrink Bears Ears by more than 85 percent. It would also create two smaller national monuments in its place, giving tribes some input on management.

But Begaye and other Navajo officials say the plan actually limits tribal involvement, and gives much of the authority to local Utah officials with little federal oversight.

Curtis reportedly told Begaye and other officials at a Monday meeting he doesn’t plan to withdraw the bill, which he says empowers tribes and local communities.