As Biden mulls protections, tourists and looters converge on Bears Head.


BLUFF, Utah — in the sandstone canyon wherein Vaughn Hadenfeldt as soon as saw the bloody tracks of a mountain lion hauling off a mule deer, there are 1,000-yr-old cliff dwellings adorned by way of rock art work of bighorn sheep wherein you can nonetheless see the ancient footprint of an toddler pressed into the wall.

A renowned desolate tract manual with a long time of experience exploring the Bears Ears region, Hadenfeldt has lengthy argued that this austere panorama teeming with archaeological and cultural treasure in southeastern Utah have to be viewed as an outdoor museum. And whenever he visits, extra of that treasure has been looted.

“Come on, human beings,” he muttered in disgust, as he scanned the sandy soil this week for pieces of painted pottery from the Ancestral Puebloan Indians that used to be so easy to discover on this region.

“This whole web site became covered with beautiful pot shards,” he said. “I wager we’re simply by no means going to forestall humans from pocketing these items.”

inside the three years on the grounds that President Donald Trump slashed the size of the Bears Ears country wide Monument through 85 percent, undoing protections mounted with the aid of President Barack Obama, the pressures in this region have only intensified, according to the citizens and scientists who have a look at it. The threats are available many bureaucracy — from roaring ATVs to uranium mining to coronavirus-weary travelers in search of out of doors journey — on land this is considered sacred ground with the aid of numerous native American tribes.

On her first experience as the new interior secretary, Deb Haaland arrived on this small city perched under bluffs and spires Wednesday for three days of meetings and hikes inside the vicinity. the primary native American cabinet secretary in U.S. records is reviewing what to do with the Bears Ears countrywide Monument and the close by Grand Staircase-Escalante country wide Monument that Trump also contracted. After her visit, Haaland is extensively predicted to advise that President Biden restore the Bears Ears limitations to at the least the 1.35 million acres established by way of Obama close to the stop of his time period in 2016.

Biden’s allies see Bears Ears as an early opportunity to prioritize conservation over fossil gasoline extraction on public lands whilst responding to an problem of particular significance for local individuals, who want to look the monument no longer simplest restored however extended past the Obama obstacles.