The Barton Family opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
My parents weren’t from Blanding. I don’t have ancestral roots to the Hole in the Rock pioneers—that’s my husband and children’s heritage. But I will always feel a connection to the land and the people here.
My father, Worthy Glover served an LDS mission in this area, in the Southwest Indian Mission, before he married my mother. He learned to speak Navajo and to love the people. He still speaks fluent Navajo, and it is always a treat to hear him sing some of my favorite songs in Navajo. If you meet him, you will have to ask him about “The Ant Hill Song,” “Go My Son,” and “I Walk in Beauty.” Some of my favorite memories include traveling with him to some distant part of the reservation to help him serve the people he loves.
My earliest memories include some of the Navajo nicknames he gave me, including Nan’a’bah (little Nan), Nizhoni (beautiful) and Dii’giis (stupid). Yep, my dad called me stupid. But I don’t think it was meant to be an insult. You see, my dad knew my nature as a fighter, a tiny fighter, but a fighter nonetheless. He knew calling me Dii’giss was a challenge, and I would automatically be the opposite of stupid, and he was right. I was one of the smartest students at San Juan High School, where I graduated with honors thanks to my parents challenging me.
“Proposals written by those pushing for a monument designation say these things will be allowed, but it is hard to believe those promises, when so often in the past those same types of promises have not been kept.”
My best friends growing up were Native American—mostly Navajo, but I had several Ute friends and my first boyfriend was Cheyenne. I am so grateful for their friendship and the example they have been to me of overcoming difficult odds.
Recently, that fighting spirit my father saw in me at a young age has started to come out, as I have realized the threat of a monument designation is very real in our area. I can’t help but feel like I need to stand up for my community, my family and friends, and especially my Native American friends. When you study history, it is obvious a monument designation will lead to greater restrictions to gathering pine nuts and other herbs and plants by Native peoples. Wood cutting is often greatly limited. I know too many people who depend on simple things like gathering pine nuts to supplement their meager income. And so many, so many that absolutely could not survive without firewood.
Recently, that fighting spirit my father saw in me at a young
age has started to come out, as I have realized the threat
of a monument designation is very real in our area.”
Proposals written by those pushing for a monument designation say these things will be allowed, but it is hard to believe those promises, when so often in the past those same types of promises have not been kept. I have to say it, imposing a monument designation on this land would be “dii-giis!” Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
Have some respect for the real people who will be most affected by this proposal. Let’s not just protect the environment (which we all know is unlikely without restrictions); let’s protect the ecosystem, which includes the land, the animals and the PEOPLE who live here!
The Wilcox Family opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
Wilcox Family – Residents of San Juan County Since 1970.
Though both Steve and I grew up in the farmlands of southern Idaho, we have learned to love San Juan County and have lived here since 1970. At first it seemed barren, dry, and too rocky. But it is Home to us now. We love the open spaces, the clean air, the slower life style and the varied landscapes which includes farms, forests, mountains, pastures, canyons, buttes, lakes, open spaces and small towns.
Central to our core beliefs is a love of the land. Steve was raised on an irrigation farm, and I was raised on a dry farm, so we’re used to getting dirty and working hard. We have raised not only a large family but a great deal of our own food ever since we moved here, plus we share with others. We are conservationists in that we try not to waste water, produce, time, energy, or belongings. We and our neighbors have been putting things we don’t need on a give-away corner at 1st S. and 3rd W. for eight years now. Because of that and being very frugal, our family reunions and activities were usually centered somewhere in the camping areas of San Juan.
Traditionally we have been tent campers without modern conveniences that modern man (woman) seems to think they can’t live without, though that has changed a bit the last 15 years. Besides family campouts our family has participated in multiple Boy Scout Camps, Girls Camps, Cub Scout camps and Fathers and Sons outings on the mountain. Some of the places we’ve camped include Bulldog, Lake Powell, Wolf Cave, Cottonwood, Blue Mountain Guest Ranch, Buckboard, Camp Jackson, Recapture Reservoir, Nizhoni Campground, Johnson Creek, Chippean Ridge, Devils Canyon, Elk Mountain, Lloyd’s lake area, Dry Wash, Abajo Haven, Red Butte, and Foy Lake. We have loved those experiences, and have done our best to camp and recreate in harmony with the surroundings and teach our family and others to leave places better than they were found.
There is NOT a lot of green space in San Juan County, that is why as residents are so against having a National Monument that stretches onto our beautiful mountain areas and down the north side. Most citizens who live here—Hispanic, Native and Anglo– have learned to love, care for, and utilize the good things that the Mountain has offered us. In turn we have learned to be good stewards of the land and follow the existing guidelines of the Forest Service.
This mountain range has been a beacon of hope, home and harmony to all cultures in the county. The Mountain Range has produced, protected, and been a provident Mother to us all. Those who know her best have followed her trails and her canyons; they have climbed her buttes and peaks, and camped in her forests and have even lived in cabins and hogans on her hillsides.
We have groomed her landscapes by gathering dead wood. In turn this helps us heat our homes and hogans. In doing so we have helped protect the mountain from fires. When dead wood is harvested, controlled burns don’t need to happen. Fall outings to gather wood were central to our preparations for winter as our family was growing up and I know it continues to be for many in our area still.
Like the Diné and Ute, we too have gathered various supplies from nature, mainly pine needles and cones to use for garden mulch, to cut back on water usage and improve alkaline soil. As a family we have often fasted for 24 hours and offered our prayers to heaven for rain and snow to bless our mountain, which in turn blesses all of us. It is a synergistic relationship which blesses both the giver and the receiver and produces the greatest results for both the Mountain and Mankind.
The Sather Family Opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
Sather Family – Once I found it, I never stopped coming back.
Where to start is the biggest question. With so many paths taken over the last 22 years, this “story” could become a novel. You see, I am a Native Texan who grew up outdoors and have always been more comfortable with my hands dirty, and my truck full of camping gear than at a desk, a bar, or a “park.” I avoid the masses who dwell in the concrete world, despite living in it every day.
My story does not begin until 1995 when I graduated from college. A good friend had sent me to SE Utah; in particular to meet a person who would become very dear and close to me over our 22 year friendship. When I met Huck Acton of Blanding and his sister Betty Gordon, my life was changed. Once the relationship was forged on that first trip, I was hooked. Once a year trips became twice a year, sometimes three times a year. This is not easy for a working man, but when we think of passions in life, we are not able to control the power of them—we must accept it and go with the flow.
For many, if not all of us, who are fortunate enough to be struck with a “true” passion for something, there is nothing finer in life. My passion and love of ancient America drove me to SE Utah, but the people, the landscape, and the experiences have made it the place my heart desires to be most in life. My spirit resides there and always will. I can’t describe the feeling of SE Utah in words, it’s something you have to experience. Time and time again I have been there, in the backcountry with Huck, my college girlfriend, my high school buddy, my dad, and now later in life, my son. Everyone who has experienced the land firsthand knows how special it is. There is no escaping the truth that lies west of Hwy 191 and north and south of 95 as far as you choose to travel.
I have ventured far in 20 plus years. On foot, in truck, on motorcycle. I have been from Mexican Water to Moab, from Dove Creek to Lake Powell, and everything in between. I have seen the finest sunsets, had the best campfires, shared the deepest emotions and stories, and ate some of the best striper I’ve ever had. All in SE Utah.
My trips were not always with others. Many times in my 30’s I took solo trips and camped at favorite places that only I know, learning about myself while hiking for 6 or 7 hours a day alone, in the canyons with the ancients. You see, when I was younger, there were no GPS units and no cellphones to use, so one had only a topo map and a good sense of direction. When lucky, I got an old hand scratched map on paper from Huck with the positively encouraging words, “Go find this and come back to tell me how it was.”
I miss that guy so much. When he left us, part of me went with him as he was my first friend in Utah. I believe his spirit lives on in the canyons, and that is where I go to listen.
Through the years I’ve been stuck in the snow in November and had good friends from Bluff come save me between Dark Canyon and Gooseberry while trying to get to Elk Ridge (Thanks Galen Headley!). The foothills of the Blues get some snow that the area south of Canyonlands does not. We were naïve that our 4X4 truck with trailer in tow would get us out. As the snow got deeper and the sun started setting, we realized we were in trouble, abandoned the trailer with dirt bikes and were lucky to get out with the help of our friends.
We live and we learn. The backcountry is unforgiving but therein lies its true beauty. Raw, alive, and a place where time stands still if you allow it to. It’s amazing who you can meet, and how you can make new friends when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
A trip a few years back had us on Elk Ridge. We stopped to talk to two locals. Before long as we compared notes, we realized that despite being almost 1000 miles apart in where we lived, we knew someone in common. The man I was talking to and his son had a relative in a town near Austin where I am originally from: Michael Glen Patterson. As it turns out, I know him through business and we have worked together on projects in our industry. Such a big place as SE Utah, was immediately shrunk to a very, very small world. It was nice knowing the people I was talking to were actually family to someone I knew from Texas.
I always feel safe out there north of 95, no matter where I am. It’s all home. After many years and many trips, my 12 year old son now journeys with me annually to the Four Corners. He was lucky enough to meet Huck and share a breakfast at Yak’s Café one morning a couple of years ago. I am thankful for that moment. My son had never seen anything like our favorite camping place on Lake Powell, or another place that is a large peninsula sticking out into the south end of Canyonlands (name purposely left off), where one can see for miles.
It’s like living in a fairytale world when we are out there, anywhere, alone, and with nature. He too will be hooked one day and I can only hope that later in life, he will head to our favorite places to find me and his youth, intact, as if it was yesterday that we were there together. What was once the unknown backcountry is now a comfortable giant backyard that is always different. With each turn a new view, a new animal to see, or just the sound of nothing. When we are done and tired, a trip back to town for supplies, a burger at the Patio or a green chili burrito at the Café make us whole again, where we often times head back out for a few more days of adventure before making the slow journey home.
We feel like family is everywhere. We always long to come back, see their faces, and catch up on what has happened over the last year. They are some of the finest people I have come to know.
The Monument Designation
I was taken back when the steam began building for the Bear’s Ear’s Natl’ Monument (BENM). I could not believe that special interest groups, and a minority assortment of banded together individuals had such a large audience. Such a huge voice was possessed that the monument was signed into being earlier this year. How could the majority not be heard?
I believe the monument is a huge loss to all Americans. The exposure of its delicate and intricate places will create a situation where areas have to be closed due to over use. The roads will be blocked and slowly places that were once open to anyone adventurous enough to find them, will be shut down.
Yes… everyone has a right to enjoy places like this, but those that have “found” it on their own, or “sought” it out, are the very ones who care for it the way it was intended to be cared for and respect it to the highest degree. Once the maps are out there for all casual tourists to follow, the beginning of the worst destruction you could imagine will begin.
Most folks I’ve seen in the backcountry leaving trash and disrespecting the fragile environment are tourists, with rented cars, passing through on a Disneyland journey “one time”. They leave a mess for others to clean up as they never intend to come back. That has not been the case for the BENM area as few people ventured off the beaten path unless they were truly interested in finding what lay beyond the highways and major thoroughfares. Those people have a respect for where they are travelling. To open this area in the manner a monument will is a huge mistake that will never be cleaned up properly no matter how hard we may try in the future.
It’s only pristine once and in my honest opinion, it is still a pristine place, taken care of by the locals, and by the folks that have made it a point to fall in love with the land, and respect it for what it is. I have for over 20 years packed out “more” than I have brought in. Cigarette butts, plastic bottles, glass, paper, and candy wrappers are the most common. Even a large Styrofoam kids airplane last year near the head of Arch Canyon. One has but to visit the most easily accessible ruins that are near paved parking lots or near the road to see what will happen to the rest of the area once it is exposed to the unforgiving masses. Trash, trampling, and sadly a lack of respect and knowledge for what one is doing.
It’s that simple. I will stop here as this is difficult to write and share. I have been a mostly silent visitor for so very many years, and was content to be so until the monument was passed. I feel for those who wanted the monument as they had their beliefs about it, but I feel they do not understand the nature of what they are bringing to bear (no pun intended). Once a decade of misuse passes, we will only be able to look back and wonder… why did we do this…or why did we allow this to happen.
I OPPOSE THE MONUMENT AND ALWAYWS WILL. Everyone has a right to all public places, but not everyone has the right to trample them with disrespect. If you can’t find it on your own through hard work and a desire to explore, you probably don’t need a map helping you get there, and will likely be the first one calling for a helicopter ride at the taxpayers’ expense when you get lost, break down, or hurt yourself. Utah as a state deserves the right to protect this land through their own legislative process. The state has already lost many places to National Parks, National Monuments, and “designated” areas with various levels of control. Leave the Bears Ear’s Monument to the people of Utah (all cultures, beliefs and backgrounds). Allow them to share it with the rest of America in a way that suits their lives as they are the true protectors of the land and understand it best.
The McCullough Family Opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
My husband grew up in Panguitch, UT, which a tiny city within what is now the Grand Staircase National Monument. It has what was then a 2A high school that draws from many surrounding communities. When his older brothers (4 and 6 years older) were in high school it offered many top arts, technology and extra curricular programs.
The monument was designated just before he began high school. Because many of the lands encompassed by the monument were trust lands owned by the school district and were rented to cattlemen to fund these programs, these programs were all cut.
Besides no longer being able to offer any more than common core, Panguitch High School has since dropped to a 1A school. This is because these types of communities are dying everywhere due to these types of government land grabs and the economic hardships they produce for families. It breaks my heart that my children’s schools, and therefore their opportunities, are about to suffer the same fate as their father’s.
“Rural lives matter. It’s the one minority that no politician is willing to fight for.”
My husband graduated top of his class from a top three medical school and could have done anything he wanted and made much more money, but we wanted to raise our children here, in a close-nit community with nature for our back yard. The “conservationists” that have pushed for this monument have no idea what this type of lifestyle means to the people who live here, nor the sacrifices we have all made to make this life for our children. They do not live here, they do not know what is best for this land, and they do not care about us.
“A monument designation brings far worse tourist impact to national treasures than you can imagine.”
They do not even realize the environmental impact of this designation. With no hunting, the deer will decimate the land. With no firewood harvesting, the beautiful forests will burn. A monument designation brings far worse tourist impact to national treasures than you can imagine. Locals have been good stewards of this land for generations, and nationalizing it will destroy it, and upturn thousands of lives. We cannot find this life anywhere else. Rural lives matter. It’s the one minority that no politician is willing to fight for.
The Redd Family Opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
Redd Family – I spent most of my childhood in Monticello, Utah. This is a beautiful outdoor recreation area. Many of my friends and neighbors enjoy hunting and fishing in the Bears Ears area. The states and local citizens have taken good care of this region. We don’t want a National Monument here, putting the the federal government in control.
The Turek Family opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
Turek Family – We are transplants to San Juan county, but we are no strangers to national monuments and parks. We know what the devastating effects will be if President Obama chooses to take away our land. Instead of protecting it, it will just bring more destruction and vandalism, destroying our community with it. We are here, we are the locals, and we say no!
The Jed & Candice Lyman Family opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
Jed & Candice Lyman Family – Our Legacy, Our Home, The Land That We Love
We have lived in Blanding for most of our lives. We raised our family here. Our parents raised their families here, as did our grandparents and great-grandparents. This is our home. We love it here.
Our ancestors were among the original pioneers who were sent in 1879 to settle this area. They arrived in what is now called Bluff in the spring of 1880. They first traveled the trails, then created roads surrounding Bluff, Blanding, and Monticello as they tried to establish viable communities.
These ancestors had to live off the land. Water was scarce. It was hard to grow crops. They built a tunnel through our Blue Mountain to channel the water to the community of Blanding. It took them 30 years to complete this tunnel. They gave everything they had to succeed in establishing communities where their posterity could live.
And they did succeed.
They left a legacy for us. These were our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers. We have loved visiting the pioneer trail that our ancestors traveled to come to Bluff. It is incredible that they were able to come across this rugged country in a covered wagon. We have gone there many times over the years and are still amazed at the strength and commitment that they must have had to accomplish their goal.
Many years ago, we built a cabin on some private property that we own on Blue Mountain. It is a quiet, little spot that has been the location of many family gatherings over the years. The Blue Mountain is included in the proposed Bears Ears National Monument area. What will happen to our private land and our little cabin if this National Monument comes to pass? No one has a clear answer for that.
We have enjoyed the beauties surrounding us while raising our family. We enjoyed going out to camp, and going on evening drives to look for deer or bears. This is our home. We protect it. We enjoy it. We will preserve it for our posterity and for all who want to visit here. It does not need to be designated a National Monument to be protected and preserved. Please do not make it a National Monument that will attract people who do not love it and will not take care of it as we do.
Erickson Family Opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
I was born and Raised in Blanding and spent my childhood exploring the vast country of San Juan County. Though I am no longer a resident of the county, I still think of myself as a Blanding boy, and a large part of who I am comes from that special place.
I was in my Senior Year in San Juan High School when the Escalate Grand Staircase National Monument was designated by Bill Clinton, and I thought him a coward for the designation despite the opposition, and for celebrating it by a ceremonious speech given in a neighboring state. I have the same feelings for President Obama, and I hope that President Trump will restore this land to the people who rely on it the most!
The Morris Family opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
Morris Family – We are against the proposed Bears Ears Monument designation. Our family is proud American Family with an astounding history with San Juan County, Utah going back many generations. We are a proud family belonging to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe residing in White Mesa, Utah that can directly trace our lineage to the Posey Band of Native Americans.
The Posey band resisted settling on government reservations in Colorado, choosing to remain free to live on Ancestral homelands within San Juan County, Utah. “The Last Indian Uprising In the United States,” which involved the Posey Band of Natives, resulted in 160 acre Land Allotments in Utah’s Allen Canyon assigned to the surviving members of the Uprising. The Morris Family still maintains these Land Allotments, numbering less than ten, to this very day.
With history that deep within San Juan County, what right does a National monument have in simply wiping it away? Particularly with 200 years of broken promises between Native American Nations and the Federal Government.
The Lovell Family Opposes the Bears Ears National Monument
Lovell Family – LOVELL FAMILY’S LOVE FOR OUR MOUNTAINS
When I was about twelve years old, I had the good fortune to go on a vacation with members of the Reed Lovell Family to visit the Fred and Ellen Lyman family in Blanding Utah. This vacation was a celebration for getting most of the summer work done.
About the third day of our stay in Blanding, we decided to drive out over Elk Mountain and see the beauty of the country around the Bears Ears. We had Erma Lee Nielson for the guide on our trip. She was in a courtship with one of the Lovell brothers. We were traveling in an older model Ford car, and about the time we reached the crossroads in front of the Nielson’s corrals at Pea Vine, the car quit us and we were stranded about three miles north of the Bears Ears.
Erma Lee walked with us down to the Nielson cabin in hopes there would be someone there who could help us, but the only person there was a Ute Indian named Dan Posey. Dan was then working for DeReese Nielson’s cattle company. We walked back to the main road hoping to catch a ride back to Blanding.
After some time, a truck came along driven by two cowboys hauling a load of horses. There was not enough room for all of us to ride back to Blanding. Neil and Erma Lee took the available seats, and my brother Austin and I walked back to the cabin. To make a long story short, they were not able to get the car parts nor fix the car for several days. We ended up staying there for most of the week. The cabin was well stocked with food, so we ate very well, and there were plenty of beds so this turned out to be a good arrangement.
Dan Posey took us all over the range putting out salt blocks for the cattle. We had a great time, and I fell in love with Elk Mountain. After we returned home, I always hoped that I would return some day.
Years later my wife and I spent a couple of days of our honeymoon in Blanding. From that moment on, I knew that I had a strong interest in coming back to make Blanding our home. My wife Adell was also congenial to the idea. After college and five years in Tooele county, I was fortunate to secure a teaching job in Blanding, Utah.
To me the Blanding territory seemed like the last frontier. I liked the feeling of the wild country and the culture of the people of the past. I wanted to convey those same feelings to my family and my students in school. For many years our classes participated in the Utah History Fairs. Our classes did extensive studies on the ancient inhabitants of the San Juan area. We visited many of the Anasazi ruins and did extensive studies on life as it was during that time.
After studying the life of the Anasazi or the “Ancient Ones” who dwelled in our area, we went to the West Water area and constructed a dwelling similar to that of the Anasazi. On returning to our class room, we constructed a diorama of an Anasazi community, as well as several other projects with petroglyphs and pictographs. We received some good recognitions at the Utah State History Fair, in Provo, Utah, after which we donated the project to the Edge of the Cedars Museum, where it was on display for several years.
One piece of interesting history of the area was the Posey War, the last Indian war that took place in 1923. “Posey’s Trail” was an important part of that history. Our son Gavin decided to mark and improve the trail for his Eagle Scout project. We took to the site George Hurst, Lynn Lyman, and Clarence Rodgers, the three people who would know best about the event because of their personal experience in the Posey War.
As they figured out where the trail went; we marked it. Later we got several scout troops to line the trail with limbs and rocks from one end to the other. A nice sign was made to mark the trailhead at the beginning of the trail on the east side. Since that time, several projects have been done on the trail such as making stairs over the fences and other improvements as needed.
The trail now is so well worn into the ground that trail markers are no longer needed. The District Cub Scout hike has become an annual event, and the Blanding Elementary fifth grade students walk the trail each year.
Our children have grown up in one of the best places in the world to be raised. Our family has a great love for this country. Many times we have gone back to the Nielson cabin at Pea Vine, where I had my first experience here, and my wife and children have grown to love this country as I have.
We have lived the old way, by using the resources of this land. These many years we have harvested wood to heat our home. We have cut thousands of trees for both cedar posts and Christmas trees. These have supplemented our income as we lived on a one-parent teacher’s wage. This was necessary to raise a large family. The deer meat harvested each year has also been a blessing to our family economy.
In our early years in San Juan County, we became heavily involved in the scouting program. In 1976 we began staffing our own council summer camps. Many good people have helped to make scouting a very successful program in San Juan County. Scouting added another dimension to our lives. It has also given me countless opportunities with other men and boys to see more of this country. Many scouts and I have walked over a good portion of this beautiful land.
This country was created to hike and explore. I had the opportunity to hike one hundred miles from Abajo Peak to Lake Powell. It was one of my greatest adventures. The scouts that participated in the 50 mile hikes were awarded a special patch/award for the achievement they accomplished. Because of my interest and enthusiasm for hiking and my position in the District Scout Committee, we developed a hiking program that offered hikes to hundreds of boy scouts through the years. Each one of these hikes merited a special recognition to display on their uniforms.
Hiking and camping with boy scouts has been the greatest opportunity that we have had to teach boys to love and respect the land. It is God’s gift to a multitude of young men who will become the leaders of the youth of our nation in the future. They can gain these experiences in no other way.