The Bears Ears National Monument is considered holy ground within the rock climbing community. The epic climbing routes in the Indian Creek area are a rite of passage for any athlete serious about the sport of rock climbing. Bears Ears National Monument and Indian Creek are now threatened.
Early last month, President Trump signed a proclamation that will reduce the size of the southeastern Utah monument. This will undo what President Obama accomplished with the Antiquities Act, which protected the region in the first place. What has rock climbers so concerned is that they feel this act diminishes the acknowledgment of their sport as a valued activity in the region. In fact, Trump’s proclamation will cause climbers to lose 40% of the climbing areas throughout the monument region.
Well, climbers do not intend to sit by idly as one of their beloved sites gets thrown by the wayside. The climbing advocacy group Access Fund helps to protect American’s climbing areas, and they’ve announced their intention to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Their decision is based on the fact that while the Antiquities Act gives a president the authority to declare a National Monument, it does not give one the authority to modify or revoke one. That decision can only be made by Congress.
The Antiquities Act has done much to protect other climbing areas around the country, including Joshua Tree, Giant Sequoia, Devil’s Tower and Mt. Rushmore. The Access Fund believes that Bears Ears is just one battle in a much larger conflict. Almost 60% of American’s climbing areas fall on federal land, and if Trump’s Proclamation #9558 goes through it could threaten the Antiquities Act and compromise America’s public lands.
Anyone who enjoys outdoor activities, not just climbers, have a reason to be concerned. An increasing number of lawmakers and politicians have started to push for things like reduced environmental regulations, limiting public authority on land management and increasing the extraction of energy resources in areas that were previously protected for outdoor recreational uses.
If you’d like to get involved in protecting federal lands for recreational use, you can search any number of organizations, or you can visit the Access Fund site and specifically support their work at www.accessfund.org.