No Co-Management

No Co-Management

No co-management in Bears Ears, Bears Ears

 The Bears Ears National Monument will NOT be Co-Managed

Directly from the Presidential Proclamation that created the Bears Ears National Monument, “Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to enlarge or diminish the rights or jurisdiction of any Indian tribe.

The tribes do not have anymore jurisdiction over the land as they did before the monument designation. Co-management promised a joint and equal division of power. The proclamation clearly states that the Bears Ears Commission will not be anything more than an advisory council. They hold no jurisdiction. They hold no power. They have no way to hold the government to their promises.

A far cry from what was promised.

No co-management Bears Ears

The proclamation also states, “[A] Bears Ears Commission (Commission) is hereby established to provide guidance and recommendations on the development and implementation of management plans and on management of the monument.”

The BLM answers the co-management question this way: “… a Bears Ears Commission has been created that will enable tribes to share information and advice with federal land managers. While tribal input will be carefully and fully considered during such planning and management, the BLM and USFS retain ultimate authority over the monument”

Again, the Bears Ears Commission is nothing more than an advisory council. The Department of Interior, only has to write a letter to dismiss the commission’s advice. There are no requirements as to what the reasons may be. All advice and recommendations can be denied at anytime, for any reason.

Does this feel like equal management to you?

The tribes do not have any more jurisdiction over the land than they did before the monument designation. Co-management promised a joint and equal division of power.

That was another broken promise.  

The proclamation also features a paragraph on what will happen “should the Commission no longer exist”. I will save you the read, the answer is: essentially nothing. The Department of Interior is to reach out to the tribes and then continue making decisions for the land.No co-management, bears ears national monument

This is not co-management. This was never co-mangement. To say otherwise is neither honest nor educated.

Perhaps this is why so many tribal members are fighting against the monument designation. The Navajo Nation Aneth chapter, one of the chapters closest to the monument, rejected the proposal. Many Native Americans have stood up against this designation from the beginning. They have already lived through too many broken government promises and witnessed the results.

In the last three years, the drinking water that runs through the Navajo Nation was poisoned twice by this same government. No clean-up was offered. No restitution was given. They were told to wait until the toxins settled on the bottom of the river, then it would be save to drink again.

Now, these same Native Americans are being asked to hand over unfettered management of lands, lands that they use to survive, to the same government. They are being told lies about co-management and equality. But, the Native Americans are a force to be reckoned with and they will no longer be stepped on by a government that does not even allow them to own their reservation lands.

This guise of co-management is an insult and this is one of the many reasons why so many Native Americans stand strong against the Bears Ears National Monument.

No co-management, bears ears national monument
Navajo Nation Aneth Chapter’s signed opposition to the Utah Diné Bikeyah’s monument proposal.

The Bears Ears Commission will be made up of five elected leaders one from each of the following tribes: Hopi Nation (184)*, Navajo Nation (borders)*, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (20)*, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah Ouray (294)*, and Zuni Tribe (209)*. Historically, the history and relationship between these tribes has been less an amicable. 

*shows miles from the Bears Ears National Monument 



Cattle, Save Bears Ears, No monument
Photo by Mary Cokenour

Locals Depend on the Land to Make a Living

It is foreign to many to think that the residents of San Juan County rely on the land to make a living. But, the facts are, the people who choose to live in this rugged area choose to live here because of the land. And because of that, many use that land, the land that they love, to survive.

We have compiled a list of occupations that will suffer at the hands of the monument designation. Some occupations many do not approve of, and some say these occupations will be replaced with tourism jobs. But should the federal government be allowed to dictate the type of jobs allowed in the Bears Ears National Monument area? Should bureaucrats living thousands of miles away be able to tell you which job you get to have?

The biggest occupational debate is cattle.


Cattlemen are probably the largest group who rely the most on the land within the monument to make a living. There are currently 43 grazing allotments within the national monument. While cattle ranching is not a large industry on a national economics scale, it is important to local economies.

Cattle, Save Bears Ears, No monument
Photo by Mary Cokenour

Cattle ranchers provide local jobs, purchase most of their goods locally, and contribute to a tax base for local infrastructure. They also pay fees to use public lands, contributing to land improvements.

Cattle provide a natural fertilizer for the land, helping promote a healthy plant life. Cattle also reduce the risk of forest fire by keeping the vegetation from growing out of control. While an overgrown field of grass and flowers may look beautiful to you, come fall, when all that plant life dies, it only takes one stray spark to ignite the entire area.

It has been hypothesized that without land management by ranchers the value of natural resources would decrease. The Forest Service and the BLM receive 45-50% of their project funding from grazing fees; that includes projects such wildlife habitat, archeological site preservation, and watershed enhancements (1).

Brief  History

Cattle, Save Bears Ears, No monument
Photo by Melinda Redd

How does a monument designation risk cattlemen jobs?

Prior to President Clinton’s administration, grazing rights in national monuments and parks were preserved.

President Clinton changed that. Sometimes, the monument rules allowed ranching to continue without any change. Sometimes, the language was vague and gave the Secretary of the Interior power to retire the permits. This is the case with Bears Ears National Monument. This was also the case in the establishment of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. With that monument, the language also specified that if any permits were voluntarily retired, they would not be reallocated. (2) 

A fine example of what the local community in the Bears Ears area is facing is what happened in Great Basin National Park.  With the creation of the Great Basin National Park in 1986, grazing was promised to continue indefinitely. However, complaints from park-goers over cattle grazing on the land eventually led to the buy-out of permits from cattle ranchers in the area. (4)

As we wait for the official monument policies and procedures to be written (which this can take up to five years), we are very aware that these are some of the possibilities that cattlemen in San Juan County will face.

What Will Happen

Local ranchers have already been told by radical environmental groups that they do not want to see any cattle on the Bears Ears National Monument. In Grand Staircase Escalante cattle permits were promised to be honored. They were not. Cattlemen in the area report grazing allotments reduced by up to 60%. Others have been allowed allotments but are not allowed the hired hands that they need to maintain fences and manage herds.

Authorized grazing within BLM managed lands has dropped by nearly 50% since 1950 but the beef consumption in the USA continues to rise. Cattle, Save Bears Ears, No monument Cattle, Save Bears Ears, No monument BLM employees and environmentalists alike speak to the ultimate goal of removing all cattle from local land, despite the benefits of grazing allotments. It is no different for San Juan County.

As more control and decision-making over multi-land use is taken from the local residents and given to the Department of Interior, a department over 2000 miles away, cattlemen are not being heard. Groups such as Friends of Cedar Mesa, Great Old Broads, SUWA, and even employees of the BLM are fighting to remove cattle from all public lands.

While radical environmentalist lobby politicians and bring in millions of dollars to achieve their goals, cattle ranchers are out in the wildness, raising cattle, building fences, maintaining land, and earning a living. They live and breathe this land. If they do not treat it right, they lose everything they have worked towards their entire lives. Now it can also be taken away without a moment’s notice as decisions are being made for cattle ranchers and not with them.

Other Jobs

Other jobs that are at risk without access to the land include:

  • Construction companies with gravel pits
  • Cannoneers
  • Hunting guides
  • Photographers
  • Forestry
  • Trapping
  • Tour guides
  • Stone quarries
  • Farmers

There are fewer business owners and employees in these categories, but their livelihoods are just as important than any one else’s. Decisions made within the local landscape are stripped from local governments or entirely ignored, as with the monument designation itself. This travesty puts all of these jobs at risk. They will continue to be at risk as long as the monument remains in place and the voices of the local officials and people are silenced.

There are businesses that will suffer on a secondary level. For instance, farmers who grow hay will loose the cattle ranchers who are forced to graze their cattle elsewhere. Business like this include:

  • School teachers & advisors
  • Local hardware stores
  • Taxidermy
  • Butcher ShopsWhen did it become okay to take away livelihoods? When did it become okay to force people out of their profession? Jobs will be lost. Homes will be lost. 

    Cattle, Save Bears Ears, No monument
    Photo by Jeana Grover

2. See Pamela Baldwin and Carol Hardy Vincent, National Monuments and the Antiquities Act, Congressional Research Service Report RL30528 (April 17, 2000),


Local Education Relies on Local Land

Over 125 parcels of land within the newly designated monument, amounting to over 8,000 acres, are SITLA lands—the lands that generate education funding. That number is small when compared to the 1.35 million acres of The Bears Ears National Monument but, it is huge when we consider our children’s education.

What are SITLA lands?

SITLA (School Institutional Trust Lands Administration) lands are parcels of land throughout Utah that were granted to Utah by Congress in 1896. These lands have always been State lands, set aside specifically to generate money for public schools and higher education.

SITLA, education, No monument, Bears ears



 Since 1994 SITLA has generated $1.5 billion in revenue to help Utah schools. 



Growth of the Permanent School Fund went from $50 million to just over $2 billion in only 20 years. Only 6% of the state’s acreage is SITLA land. 96% of the money generated from these lands goes to public schools.

Generated money within these SITLA lands comes through oil, gas, and mineral leases, rent, and royalties. This includes leasing to ranchers and farmers for livestock grazing and crops. Recently, a portion of SITLA land that held significant historical value for local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was sold to a group dedicated to preserving that land and its history for youth groups to learn from for generations, generating another $500,000 for local schools.

SITLA lands have always been private lands. Selling private land to a private group, helping further our children’s education, fits precisely within the mission of SITLA. Local schools also continue to benefit from sold parcels through property taxes.

Utah School Board Opposition

The Utah School Board Association passed a resolution on the 20th of August, 2016 opposing the Bears Ears Monument designation. Our children’s educators do not want this land designated. The resolution states, “Utah School Boards Association opposes the unilateral and unwarranted Presidential designation of a Monument, which is opposed by the local elected officials, the Utah House of Representatives, and Utah’s Congressional Representatives.”

They state that “local officials are in the best position to identify threats and solutions for funding education while protecting assets to ensure continued tax revenue.” In other words, local officials have more of an incentive to truly protect SITLA lands.  If you want continued revenue from something, you do not destroy it. A farmer does not destroy his land by cultivating it. He grooms it, protects it, and lets it rest so that he can continue to use the land for generations to come. That is likewise the aim with our SITLA lands.

education, Bears Ears, SITLA lands, Code talkers
Valena Lake – 1999 State History Fair winner, went to national competition with her display on code talkers.

“The Utah School Boards Association, represents all 41 public school districts in
Utah and does hereby declare opposition
to the designation of the 1.9 million acres
as a National Monument.”

-Utah School Board Association

The Future

The state will have a chance to trade their SITLA lands within the monument for other BLM land. However, if monuments keep being created at the present rate, there will eventually be no more land for Utah to choose from.

SITLA land is also not public land. SITLA is usually managed as private land.  Utah would be forced to take over 8000 acres of public land from another community in an effort to make up for the loss of their land in San Juan County, land that has been providing for our children’s education for decades.

Money from SITLA lands allows schools to have funds for things that they are not able to pay for out of the regular public school budget. Click here to learn more about how STILA manages the money they generate. Many have said that SITLA lands are selling out our futures for profit. But, our children are our future. Their education is what will help guide the next generation.

bears ears, Bears Ears National Monument, Local voices, No monument