Public Given Shortened Comment Period On Bears Ears

May 18, 2017
U.S. Forest Service
The land surrounding the twin buttes that make up Bears Ears is considered a place of healing, a sacred place to several tribes in the Southwest.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is accepting public comments on a review of 22 national monuments for 60 days. But for Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah he's giving people only 15 days. 

Many tribal members in the southwestern United States consider the land surrounding the twin buttes sacred. The accelerated comment period is challenging for people who live in remote areas of Indian Country. 

Arizona State Rep. Eric Descheenie visited with dozens of Navajo elders when he helped start the Bears Ears initiative eight years ago. And he calls the review time irresponsible. 

“They don’t one have access to the internet and if they do they’re not as astute to jump on social media,” Descheenie said. “I mean this is grandma grandpa we’re talking about who probably don’t know about this very small window. One could argue it services a certain community and disregards an entire population.”

Secretary Zinke visited Bears Ears last week and questioned whether a monument status was the best way to protect the land. The public has until May 26 to comment on Bears Ears.