In 2017, the Trump administration moved to reduce the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by about half. Trump’s executive order was immediately challenged in lawsuits, still ongoing, which were filed on behalf of archaeologists, conservationists and tribes. The federal defendants then moved to dismiss the cases in October 2018, supported by the State of Utah and several other intervenors. Civil Rights (Voting Rights, Juries, Census), Development of Indian Law (Legislative Actions), Education & Outreach (Publications, Online Resources, Speaking Engagements), Environmental Protection (Climate Change), Human Rights (Violence Against Women, Mascots, Boarding School Healing), Professional Training (Law Clerk Program). We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports. We and our fellow plaintiffs opposed dismissal and eight groups of amici curiae—law professors, members of Congress, and others—filed amicus briefs in support. The move stripped legal protections from nearly two million acres of federal public lands that hold incomparable archaeological, paleontological, cultural, and natural significance. The motion asks the judge to rule that President Trump’s attempt to reduce Bears Ears is beyond the president’s authority. With this motion, the tribal plaintiffs simply ask the judge to acknowledge these facts and rule in favor of the first, second, and third claims in the tribal plaintiff’s amended complaint. In Congress, Arizona representative Ruben Gallego and New Mexico rep Deb Haaland introduced the Bears Ears Expansion And Respect for Sovereignty Act (BEARS Act), which would bring the monument to the size originally petitioned for—600,000 acres larger, in fact, than the boundaries then-President Obama designated in 2016. The Antiquities Act – a law created specifically to protect historical objects and places –was used instead to remove protection from irreplaceable historical objects and places. Several American Indian tribes are asking the courts to reverse the order that reduced Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County by 85 percent. The court has therefore ordered the federal government to provide plaintiffs with timely notice before beginning a range of potentially harmful developments within these now-vulnerable lands. President Obama established the Monument in 2016 based on the tribes’ proposal, which NRDC and partners supported. Lawsuits challenge Trump’s trim of Utah monuments ... McIntosh also represents many of the same groups in a parallel effort to block the downsizing of Bears Ears National Monument… The issue here is simple: whether the President had the authority to do what he did. © Natural Resources Defense Council 2020 Privacy Policy Photo credit: Jonathan Bailey. We filed our amended complaints on November 7, 2019, and on January 9, 2020, we moved for summary judgment. Tribes File for Summary Judgment in Bears Ears Case, Hold governments accountable to Native Americans, Religious Rights (Religious Freedom, Sacred Places, Repatriation), filed a motion for partial summary judgment, NARF’s work to protect Bears Ears National Monument. President Barack Obama had created the Bears Ears Monument a year earlier. In light of this blatant violation of law, the Navajo Nation, NARF (representing the Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe), and the Ute Indian Tribe filed a lawsuit on Monday, December 4, 2017 to defend Bears Ears National Monument. To the contrary, in revoking the original Bears Ears Monument and replacing it with two remnants, President Trump usurped power reserved only to Congress – a power that Congress has repeatedly reaffirmed and claimed for itself. Less than a year later, in an effort to free up lands for uranium mining and other extractive industries, President Trump purported to revoke the Monument and replace it with two smaller, non-contiguous monuments. In September 2019, the court denied the federal defendants’ motion to dismiss, while also directing us and our fellow plaintiff groups to file amended complaints with updated facts relating to our standing. (CN) Legal challenges to the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to downsize and develop on Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments will move forward, a judge has ruled, handing environmental and tribal groups their first victory in the case. Pictographs at Bears Ears. This place was deserving of its national monument designation, just as park sites like the Grand Canyon and Muir Woods were, and remains so today. It also reduced the size of Bears Ears by nearly 85%. After more than two years of litigation, Access Fund has finished the first round of arguments in its lawsuit to defend the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah, a sacred landscape to Native Americans and home to world-renowned rock climbing. Within hours of President Trump’s proclamation, five Native American tribes filed a lawsuit in federal court in D.C., challenging the president’s action as unlawful. Bears Ears is the first national monument ever created at the request of a coalition of Indigenous tribes. The motion asks the judge to rule that President Trump’s attempt to reduce Bears Ears is beyond the president’s authority. The Tribes worked for years to gather evidence and make a case for the protection of this landscape teeming with historical objects and sites. President Trump’s proclamation slashed Bears Ears by roughly 85 percent, replacing it with two much smaller, noncontiguous monument “units” and leaving the rest of the area open to harmful developments such as uranium mining, oil and gas drilling, road construction, and the use of mechanized vehicles. (We filed a similar lawsuit over Grand Staircase-Escalante earlier the same week.) “Bears Ears protects and connects the surrounding national park landscape that includes Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Natural Bridges National Monument and Canyonlands National Park. State Disclosures. During the 2020 campaign, Biden signaled he would do just that, while also prioritizing landscape conservation more broadly. The power of preserving this outstanding landscape is in your hands. On Thursday, January 9, 2020, the tribal plaintiffs in the lawsuit to protect the Bears Ears National Monument filed a motion for partial summary judgment. “This illegal decimation of the Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument opens up Navajo, Hopi, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni ancestral lands to development that could degrade wildlife habitat, threaten cultural sites and expose communities in southern Utah to unacceptable pollution and health risks,” Stone-Manning said. The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition developed a comprehensive plan to create a national monument that would protect 1.9 million acres of these sacred lands, commencing an impassioned campaign to get Congressional approval. Please take the time to learn how to protect the monument … On December 4, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to reduce Bears Ears National Monument by 85%, exposing nearly 40% of climbing areas within the original boundaries. In January 2018, the district court consolidated all three lawsuits. This is a pure issue of law. To the Tribes, it is a living and vital place where ancestors passed from one world to the next, often leaving their mark in petroglyphs or painted handprints, and where modern day tribal members can still visit them. Yesterday evening, the coalition fighting to protect Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments cleared a milestone in the legal battle for the future of these public lands when the court deniedthe Trump administration’s motion to dismiss the case. The motion for summary judgment clearly lays out the issue at hand: For the first time in history, five federally recognized Tribes banded together to advocate for a national monument to protect, for all Americans and for all time, a place so wondrous it had drawn people to it for more than 13,000 years. While the cases are pending, there is a real risk of harm to the lands excised from Bears Ears. Donate now to help protect Bears Ears National Monument. On Thursday, January 9, 2020, the tribal plaintiffs in the lawsuit to protect the Bears Ears National Monument filed a motion for partial summary judgment. … A third group of plaintiffs—including grassroots organization Utah Diné Bikéyah, outdoor retailer Patagonia, and others—also sued. It’s also a very important place to Native American tribes, including the Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Hopi and Zuni, whose ancestors all lived off the land at one point. The monument's original size was 1,351,849 acres (2,112.264 sq mi; 5,470.74 km 2), which was controversially reduced 85% by President Donald Trump on December 4, 2017. When Bears Ears National Monument was initially created by President Barack Obama in December 2016 it encompassed nearly two million acres of public land. You'll receive your first NRDC action alert and update email soon. Two days later, NRDC, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and a coalition of other environmental groups represented by Earthjustice followed with our own lawsuit. We will not allow the rights of our Native nations and our local people to be willfully pushed to the side for the benefit of corporate interests. Several American Indian tribes are asking the courts to reverse the order that reduced Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County by 85%. Read more about NARF’s work to protect Bears Ears National Monument. Quite simply, the president is not authorized to revoke a national monument once it has been established. The underlying issue of PLF’s lawsuit over Bears Ears National Monument serves as a perfect example of how not to protect our country’s natural treasures. As all three lawsuits explain, President Trump has neither constitutional nor statutory authority to dismantle national monuments. five Native American tribes filed a lawsuit, ordered the federal government to provide plaintiffs with timely notice, Trump Administration Officially Invites Polluters into Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, The Attack on Our National Monuments Just Got Real, We’re Suing Trump Over His Illegal Attempt to Destroy Our National Monuments, All National Monuments Designated Under the Antiquities Act, This Ancient Place Just Secured Membership in America’s Culture Club. In the motion, NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth spells out the problem, “In an act untethered to principle or caselaw, President Trump did what no other President has done: revoked a national monument and replaced it with two small units comprising less than 15 percent of the original size of the Monument. In September 2018, the district court denied the federal defendants’ request to transfer the cases to the federal court in Utah. January 9, 2020 On Thursday, January 9, 2020, the tribal plaintiffs in the lawsuit to protect the Bears Ears National Monument filed a motion for partial summary judgment. Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which Patagonia has filed a lawsuit to preserve, is a “place that should have been protected 50 years ago,” said … The Navajo Nation and four other American Indian tribes said Tuesday they had sued President Trump to undo his action reducing the Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. The Natural Resources Defense Council works to safeguard the earth - its people, Bears Ears National Monument is a huge, geologically diverse landscape with one of the highest concentrations of archaeological sites in the country. Rich in ancient and modern Native culture, and literally part of the homeland and history of the five Tribes in this case, it is known as Bears Ears National Monument. We will stand firm for justice. Complaint filed against the Trump Administration to block action on Bears Ears National Monument (December 7, 2017) Court order denying transfer and requiring notice (September 24, 2018) In 2016, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to unilaterally create the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. In so doing, he acted well beyond the law and well beyond the Constitutional limits of his power.”. Recognizing that Bears Ears was exactly the kind of place for which the Antiquities Act was created, President Obama designated the Monument on December 28, 2016. its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. As of June 9, 2020, briefing on the summary judgment motions is complete and we are awaiting the court’s decision. A stunning abuse of the Antiquities Act by any measure, the Trump Proclamation removed 85 percent of the original monument lands from protection, and removed 100 percent of protection from tens of thousands (and likely more) of cultural objects in the excised lands. Thanks for signing up. NARF continues to fight for the Native nations who have spent years working to protect their sacred, ancestral lands and the millions of people who declared their support for our national monuments. The motion asks the judge to rule that President Trump’s attempt to reduce Bears Ears is beyond the president’s authority. Donate now to help protect Bears Ears National Monument. This is one of the most extensive archaeological areas on Earth. The ancestral homeland of several Native American tribes—the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Pueblo of Zuni—Bears Ears National Monument encompasses thousands of cultural sites, including dwellings, kivas, granaries, and rock art, that hold deep cultural and religious importance to the tribes today. Three days after President Donald Trump issued a proclamation taking an axe to Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah, conservation organizations filed a lawsuit attacking the order as an abuse of the president’s power. When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. Neither the plain text of the Antiquities Act, nor its legislative history can be reasonably construed to allow the President to do what he purported to do here. Former Bears Ears Land Offered For Mining, Drilling, But Few Takers So Far The Trump administration opened lands within the former bounds of two Obama-designated National … Photo credit: Jonathan Bailey. Bears Ears also represents one of the most pristine, road-free areas in the contiguous United States, featuring a rugged labyrinth of sandstone canyons, cliffs and rock arches, meadows, and desert mesas. On December 4, 2017, President Trump signed proclamations dismantling two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, both in southern Utah. Categories: Religious Rights (Religious Freedom, Sacred Places, Repatriation). On December 4, 2017, President Trump signed proclamations dismantling two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, both in southern Utah. Pictographs at Bears Ears. He clearly did not. President Bill Clinton Grand Staircase-Escalante as a national monument in 1996 as a kind of research park for paleontology. 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