Published March 18, 2017
WASHINGTON – On Friday, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, calls on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to meet with the Bears Ears Commission in Utah and discuss the importance and management of the Bear Ears National Monument to the tribes. The Bears Ears Commission, composed of five sovereign tribes, including the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, sent a letter today to Secretary Zinke requesting the meeting amid reports that the Trump administration may be considering actions to reduce the size of the monument or to eliminate it entirely. Senator Heinrich released the following statement:
“I stand with the Bears Ears Commission in calling for Secretary Zinke to fulfil his responsibility to meet with tribal leaders when he is in Utah. During his confirmation, Secretary Zinke committed to me that he would meet and work with tribes and tribal communities whose ancestral lands and sacred sites are protected by Antiquities Act national monuments before making any decisions about them.
“The Bears Ears region, a spectacular landscape with its big skies and red rocks east of the Colorado River and south of Canyonlands National Park, includes thousands of historic and cultural sites with deep meaning to numerous tribes. Bears Ears is sacred ground and the tribes must have a say in the stewardship and management of it.
“I was proud to stand with the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, who called for the designation of Bears Ears National Monument to permanently protect their ancestral homelands. Years of engagement demonstrated that the Bears Ears region and the legacies left in its canyons and on its mesas deserved monument protection. Safeguarding this type of sacred ground is exactly what the Antiquities Act was intended to do.
“For more than a century since Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, presidents from both political parties have used their authority to protect iconic landscapes and cultural treasures. Places such as the Grand Canyon, Arches, Carlsbad Caverns, Zion, and, more recently, the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments in New Mexico were protected for all of us by use of the Antiquities Act. These are places we all treasure and integral parts of who we are as Americans.
“I call on Secretary Zinke to meet with the Bears Ears Commission and show leadership in recognizing the extraordinary history of Bears Ears and protect these lands for our children and all future generations.”