Bears Ears Monument Designation Protects Iconic American Landscape

Bears Ears region in southeast Utah is a win for cultural preservation and recreational opportunities.

By Jessica Wahl December 29, 2016

The year ends with great news for the $646 billion outdoor recreation industry—the Bears Ears region has been designated as a national monument! This area is an iconic recreation destination as well as a sacred place for Native American communities and will be protected as such to inspire future generations.

 After more than a year of thoughtful deliberation and consultation with many of you, Outdoor Industry Association sent a letter to President Obama earlier this month to ask that he use the power granted to him by the 1906 Antiquities Act to declare 1.4 million acres around the Bears Ears area in southeastern Utah a national monument.

 We did not arrive at this decision impulsively and did not make this request of the president lightly. As our land designation statement asserts, we always prefer a legislative solution to executive action to ensure local input and strong collaboration with elected officials and stakeholders. To that end, we worked closely with the Utah delegation to craft a balanced approach through their Public Lands Initiative (PLI). The legislation included protections for 1.4 million acres around the Bears Ears and some recreation guarantees, but also contained proposals that we could not support. Despite the best efforts of all and continued consultation with the Utah congressional delegation and Governor Herbert to find compromise, we were unable to do so.

 We also worked with the White House and the U.S. Department of the Interior to assist in their efforts to gather local input, ensuring the recreation community was there to show support for this place of significant cultural importance and renowned outdoor recreation.

 Outdoor Industry Association joins our friends at The Conservation Alliance and Outdoor Alliance and the many other groups that played a role on this important issue, in applauding President Obama’s designation of the Bears Ears National Monument. Congratulations also goes to all of the OIA members that worked on this and many other important efforts for outdoorists across the country. Your voice matters and I look forward to continuing this work with you in the new year.