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Commonly Asked Questions

We know you care a lot about Bears Ears and the way this area is used and managed. How will permanent protective designation affect these lands and what you can do there? Don’t rely on rumors. Read on for accurate answers to your most important questions:

If Bears Ears becomes a National Monument… 

Will I be able to collect wood for heating and/or ceremonial uses?

Yes. Local wood collecting is central to the proposal and will be collaboratively managed in coordination with Tribes. Utah Diné Bikéyah has been working with federal agencies to make it easier for local people to obtain firewood permits and make salvaged firewood available to local communities.

Will I be able to collect plants and medicinal herbs?

Yes. The Bears Ears proposal has been created with Native American uses as the highest priority, including traditional resource gathering.

Will I still be able to drive to get to places I have visited for many years?

Yes. While no roads will be closed by a designation itself, it will trigger a new travel management planning process that will include full public involvement. Utah Diné Bikéyah’s position is to maintain important motorized access routes and develop a sensible travel plan that will meet the needs of Native people and the public.

Will I be able to continue to visit sacred places, like ancient cliff dwellings?

Yes. The majority of sites are open to public access now and will remain open. In the event of site instability or other visitation threats, special accommodations will be made for Native American ceremonial visitation.

Will I be able participate in ceremonies in the designated area?

Yes. The BLM and Forest Service are required to identify the cultural values, religious beliefs, traditional practices, and legal rights of Native American people when making management decisions. Under the Bears Ears proposal, Native American uses will be elevated above other uses for the first time.

Will grazing rights continue within the Bears Ears National Monument?

Yes. Permit holders will be allowed to continue grazing livestock, with better management to protect sacred sites, plants, and natural areas.

Is it legal to collect arrowheads, pot shards, and other artifacts?

No. These cultural antiquities are protected under federal law. A designation is expected to bring additional management resources to stop looting and desecration that has occurred over the past century.

Will new energy development and mining be allowed?

Existing leases will still be valid and developable; however new leases or mining claims will not be allowed.

Will I be able to hunt?

Yes. Hunting will be allowed and permits will continue to be managed by the State of Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources.

Will Bears Ears become like a national park?

No, national monuments are different than national parks in many ways. Hunting, traditional resource gathering, and cultural practices would all be protected through national monument proclamation. Under the tribally-led proposal, Bears Ears will be collaboratively managed by five Tribes—Hopi, Zuni, Diné, Ute Mountain Ute, and Uintah Ouray Ute—alongside the three federal agencies that will continue to manage these lands—BLM, Parks Service, and Forest Service. Collaborative management by Tribes will help ensure that cultural and natural resources are overseen in accordance with Native customs and traditions.

Are Tribes divided?

No, support among Native Americans locally, regionally, and nationally is nearly unanimous from the grassroots to the heads of government. The Bears Ears proposal is the official policy of the five sovereign tribal nations of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition: Hopi, Zuni, Diné, Ute Mountain Ute, and Uintah Ouray Ute. In one unified voice, these Tribes are asking President Obama to designate Bears Ears as a National Monument. In addition, 25 Tribes and the National Congress of American Indians (representing nearly 300 Tribes) have all passed formal resolutions of support; 6 of 7 Utah Navajo Chapter Houses support the proposal; and the Navajo Nation supports monument designation for Bears Ears. Though Utah politicians have highlighted a small group of Navajos who oppose national monument designation, more than 1,300 Native Americans who live adjacent to the proposed Bears Ears National Monument have hand-written postcards and sent letters asking President Obama to create a national monument.

Will I still be able to camp, hike, backpack, climb, build camp fires, pick pine nuts, mountain bike, bring pets, ride my horse, or drive my ATV?

Yes, all of these activities will still be allowed if Bears Ears becomes a national monument.