Protecting our National Lands and Monuments
The ancestral homeland of several Native American tribes—the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Pueblo of Zuni—Bears Ears National Monument encompasses thousands of cultural sites, including dwellings, kivas, granaries, and rock art, that hold deep cultural and religious importance to the tribes today. Bears Ears also represents one of the most pristine, road-free areas in the contiguous United States, featuring a rugged labyrinth of sandstone canyons, cliffs and rock arches, meadows, and desert mesas. President Obama established the Monument in 2016 based on the tribes’ proposal, which NRDC and partners supported. With Trump's rollback of national land status, many tribes and environmentalists sued. While the cases are pending, there is a real risk of harm to the lands excised from Bears Ears. The court has therefore ordered the federal government to provide plaintiffs with timely notice before beginning a range of potentially harmful developments within these now-vulnerable lands.