Climbing USA: Donald Trump reduces Bears Ears National Monument by 85%

The President of the United States Donald Trump has reduced protected lands in the Bears Ears National Monument by 85%, and by 45% those protected in the National Monument.

2016 came to an end on a high for environmentalists, climbers and all those involved in the outdoors in the USA when, just before leaving office, the President of the United States Barack Obama established the Bears Ears National Monument in order to permanently protect - so people thought - a region which includes Indian Creek, Lockhart Basin, Arch Canyon, Texas Canyon, and many other sandstone climbing areas.

Yesterday’s news is on the other end of the scale, as the current US president Donald Trump has signed a proclamation that drastically reduces not only the new Bears Ears National Monument, but also the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument established by another predecessor, Bill Clinton. Estimates are that the protected land within the Grand Staircase-Escalante will reduced by 45%, while those in the Bears Ears by a staggering 85%. This amounts to circa 1.1 million acres losing their national monument status, including world-class climbing areas such as Valley of the Gods, Harts Draw, Lockhart Basin and a part of Indian Creek.

A move of this sort is unprecedented and the American Access Fund, which represents the interests of American climbers, is understandably worried that the “public lands” will become private and exploited for their natural gas and minerals.

In the front line against this recent decision, the American Access Fund has explained “This fight is about more than just protecting the incredible climbing at Bears Ears. Nearly 60% of our climbing areas are on federal public lands, and if this presidential proclamation stands, it threatens the very foundation of our public lands system. Bears Ears is a crucial battle in the greater fight for America’s public lands. Whether you live and climb in Utah or on the other side of the country, this fight affects everyone who climbs on our public lands. All Americans share public lands ownership—climbers in North Carolina own a piece of Bears Ears just as climbers in Utah own a piece of Red River Gorge. Access Fund is preparing to fight in order to protect climbing areas within Bears Ears National Monument. Please stay tuned.”

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