President Designates Bears Ears National Monument (UT)
This week, President Obama declared the Bears Ears region of southeast Utah a National Monument, permanently protecting this incredible region. American Whitewater is especially proud to announce that the National Monument Proclamation specifically acknowledges whitewater paddling as an appropriate and valued recreation activity.
The Bears Ears region in Southeast Utah includes the San Juan River and has a rich human history dating back over 13,000 years. Some of the most impressive evidence of this human history can be seen through the remains of Pueblo structures and artifacts along the river, including River House. As the Presidential Proclamation states, “remains of single family dwellings, granaries, kivas, towers, and large villages and roads linking them together reveal a complex cultural history.” Numerous pictographs and petroglyphs are visible at several sites along the river and it is not uncommon to find artifacts around river camps that enrich the overall experience of a journey through the landscape.
The Presidential Proclamation also notes the scientific resources of the region, stating “The area's stunning geology, from sharp pinnacles to broad mesas, labyrinthine canyons to solitary hoodoos, and verdant hanging gardens to bare stone arches and natural bridges, provides vital insights to geologists.” River runners are familiar with the incised meanders of Goosenecks as well as the spectacular Comb Ridge, a monocline visible as a large fold in the earth’s crust. Additionally, the region has a rich trove of fossils that are providing new insight into the history of life on our planet.
River runners have a unique opportunity to experience this incredible landscape through a multi-day river trip, and many outdoor enthusiasts also experience this place through other activities. Recognizing this fact, the Presidential Proclamation states: “The area contains numerous objects of historic and of scientific interest, and it provides world class outdoor recreation opportunities, including rock climbing, hunting, hiking, backpacking, canyoneering, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Because visitors travel from near and far, these lands support a growing travel and tourism sector that is a source of economic opportunity for the region.”
While protection of this region has been discussed for decades, we are pleased that President Obama has taken a leadership role in designating this region as a National Monument. Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the President has the authority to designate public lands as national monuments to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features. Few places in the Western United States have the rich cultural and scientific resources that one can experience first-hand along the San Juan River. It's a multi-day trip that is one of the best family-friendly trips in the region.
Read the full text of President Obama’s Monument Proclamation:
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