THE WAR ON OUR FEDERAL LANDS

Red Sandstone Mesa In Indian Creek National Monument
Red sandstone mesa straight out of the Old West in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA

President Obama had a long process of consideration and public meetings and cooperation with five Indian tribes in creating Bear’s Ears National Monument. Trump and his henchman, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, ripped all that up with inflamatory rhetoric and caving to local interests who want to cut open the land, encouraging uranium mining, coal mining, and oil and gas drilling. Local people have a long history of looting ancient Indian graves and archaeological sites, and want to keep our American lands as their own personal playground.

The latest proposal for Bears Ears is to split it into two separate and much smaller national monuments, to be called the Indian Creek National Monument and Shash Jaa National Monument. These would reduce the total national monument land that has been protected by the Bears Ears proclamation by 85%–a devastating loss to those of us who love our national lands.

These photographs were taken during a few magical days in October of 2017, and show the Indian Creek National Monument lands that will still be preserved. And thank God that they will, at least until there is a big discovery of uranium or coal under the surface. This is an iconic landscape of the American West, with its sweeping valleys, high sandstone mesas, and evidence of early Indian occupation.

At the end of SR 211, the road leading through Indian Creek Valley to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park and immediately outside the park entrance, there was a one square mile section of land owned by the State of Utah. This was put up for auction to the highest bidder early in 2017. There was a possibility that it could have ended up in the hands of a mining corporation or a big developer, thus ruining the Old West feel of the entire valley. We dodged a bullet when the highest bid came from Jennifer Speers, a Salt Lake City environmentalist and philanthropist who vowed to keep the land as it is.

The State of Utah passed the Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act in 2012, which called upon the federal government to transfer most of its lands in Utah to the state. This hasn’t happened, of course, but it could, if Satan’s stars align. If this occurs, vast sections of the state could be sold off to developers, ranchers, miners, drillers and other private interests, which would make the state rich, but would make the rest of us poorer as we lose our Western Heritage of vast lands available for the soul and body to explore.

Remember Edward Abbey’s rallying cry: Hayduke Lives! If the worst comes to pass, many among us will become Hayduke.

North Six Shooter Peak In Indian Creek National Monument
North Six Shooter Peak with its talus cone, a favorite tower climing destination in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Utah State Route 211 In Indian Creek National Monument
Utah SR 211 winding through the canyons of Indian Creek, along the Indian Creek Corridor Scenic Byway, in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, on the way to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah, USA
Red Sandstone Mesa In Indian Creek National Monument
Red sandstone mesa straight out of the Old West in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Red Sandstone Mesa In Indian Creek National Monument
Red sandstone mesa straight out of the Old West in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Autumn Fremont Cottonwoods In Indian Creek National Monument
Autumn Fremont Cottonwoods, Populus fremontii, with sandstone mesas, in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Uranium Mining Installation in Indian Creek National Monument
Wooden aquaduct that may have been part of uranium exploration in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Beef Basin Road at Indian Creek National Monument
Beef Basin Road running through Beef Basin’s autumn Fremont Cottonwoods, Populus fremontii, with sandstone formations, in or near Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
North and South Six Shooter Peaks In Indian Creek National Monum
Autumn Fremont Cottonwoods, Populus fremontii, with North and South Six Shooter Peaks, in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Beef Basin In or near Indian Creek National Monument
Beef Basin, in (or near) Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Utah State Route 211 In Indian Creek National Monument
Utah SR 211 winding through the canyons of Indian Creek, along the Indian Creek Corridor Scenic Byway, in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, on the way to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah, USA
Autumn Fremont Cottonwoods In Indian Creek National Monument
Autumn Fremont Cottonwoods, Populus fremontii, with sandstone mesas, in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock In Indian Creek National Monument
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock In Indian Creek National Monument
Animal or human track petroglyphs made by Ute People at Newspaper Rock in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock In Indian Creek National Monument
Deer petroglyphs made by Ute People at Newspaper Rock in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock In Indian Creek National Monument
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA. Note the bullet hole left by a local yahoo.
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock In Indian Creek National Monument
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock in Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA
Corral for Cattle In Indian Creek National Monument
Historic corral for cattle grazing in what is now Indian Creek National Monument, formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, southern Utah, USA

Resources:

Hayduke Lives!

Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act

Jennifer Speers Buys Land Near Canyonlands National Park

High Country News about Trump’s slashing of Bears Ears

 

Author: leerentz

BS and MS in natural resources, with early career work as an artist and nature center director. Became a full-time photographer in 1990. Sells photographs at art shows nationwide. Publication credits include National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, US News & World Report, Prevention, National Wildlife, Audubon, and scores of other magazines, books, calendars, and electronic media.

2 thoughts on “THE WAR ON OUR FEDERAL LANDS”

  1. Thanks for so carefully stating the horror of the recent action by the President and his staff regarding our national parks. It is deplorable–and indicative of his profit is more important than anything else attitude. The lack of any regard for history, culture, nature is unsettling.

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