There are about 3 million people in the state of Utah. According to Time, 64.9% of the state is federally owned. This includes areas that are designated as National Forest Land, wilderness, National Park, Department of Defense land, and National Monuments. Many who live in Utah (and across the country) don’t trust the federal government. Which is part of the reason why, for years, there has been a heated debate over 1.35 million acres in the southeast of Utah. President Obama established Bears Ears National Monument in December 2016, protecting the area from looters and those who do not respect the landscape and archeological sites.
While this may seem like a simple cut and dry for some, it sparked even more national debate on several topics including federal land grabs, usage rights, and which interest groups should have a say in how the monument is managed. For example, an archeologic site important to anthropologists studying the Pueblo people may mean nothing to a member of the Off-Highway Vehicle community. Two climbers may have differing views on ease of access to cliffs with one preferring to have roads established so they can drive right up to their destination, while the other may prefer to have to hike a distance, to keep the traffic down. Managing public lands is a delicate process that includes many different stakeholders, all who have their own opinions which need to be taken into account.
Find more about the Friends group Josh is working for here – Friends of Cedar Mesa