There are two options for managing public lands in southeast Utah.
The Bears Ears National Monument would cover 1.9 million acres, including, from north to south: the Indian Creek area, Abajo Mountains, Dark Canyon Wilderness, Bear’s Ears Buttes, Cedar Mesa, Grand Gulch, Comb Ridge, White Canyon, Valley of the Gods, and a portion of the Glen Canyon Recreation Area at the confluence of the Colorado and San Juan Rivers.
National monuments are designed for increased protection of landscapes and are proclaimed by presidential order under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Public lands in the Bears Ears National Monument would be managed by a commission of tribal representatives and federal land agencies.
U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chafetz of Utah introduced the Public Lands Initiative – a bill proposing a combination of national conservation areas, wilderness areas, national monuments and directives for 1.4 million acres in the Cedar Mesa area.
It would create new wilderness areas, including 52,300 acres near Dinosaur National Monument, 175,500 acres in the Book Cliffs, 257,600 acres in Canyonlands, and 223,566 acres in Cedar Mesa.
Eleven national conservation areas would be designated, including 530,400 acres of the San Rafael Swell and one in the Bears Ears area. It also seeks to establish the Jurassic National Monument at a fossil quarry, expand Goblin Valley State Park and Arches National Park, and add wild and scenic river designation to parts of the Colorado, Dolores, Green and San Juan rivers.
The PLI proposes to eliminate 80,000 acres of wilderness study areas, create sportsman management areas, designate a right-of-way through Recapture Canyon, establish off-highway vehicle trails, and speed up energy development.