Outdoor Recreation and Public Lands News for 6/16/16

Utahns divided on support for Bears Ears National Monument

New polls suggest that Utahns are divided in their support Bears Ears National Monument.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a “39 percent plurality opposes a monument, which President Barack Obama has been asked to designate under the Antiquities Act, while 33 percent support presidential action to protect this region around Bears Ears Buttes, according to a telephone survey of likely Utah voters sponsored by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.”

The Bears Ears National Monument has been proposed by representatives of the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Ute Indian Tribe.  As proposed, it would encompass 1.9 million acres of ancestral land on the Colorado Plateau.  The Bears Ears area contains thousands of significant archeological sites, many of which have been looted in recent years.

A petition signed to form Bears Ears National Monument by over 700 archeaologists states “More than a century of looting, grave robbing and vandalism in the Cedar Mesa and Bears Ears region has insulted Native American spirituality, marred the scientific record, and erased American history. These crimes against both the past and the future continue at an alarming rate, with several dozen incidents in the last two years.  Please ready your pen to create a National Monument should Congress continue its failure to protect this internationally significant cultural landscape.”

President Obama has not stated whether he will use the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate Bears Ears National Monument.

To read more about recent polling, follow this link to the Salt Lake Tribune.  To read more about the Bears Ears National Monument Proposal, follow this link to the Bears Ears Coalition.


US Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell Proposes Measuring the Impact of Outdoor Recreation on the US Economy

US Secretary of the Interior, the position that directs the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, proposed an initiative to measure the economic impact of outdoor recreation to the US economy.  Jewell states, “We’re putting America’s outdoor economy on equal footing with every other major economic sector.  This fast-growing economic powerhouse deserves to be counted. Outdoor activities are so closely tied to the health and accessibility of our public lands, yet this sector has, for too long, been overlooked and undervalued.”

For over a decade, The Outdoor Industry Association produces an annual report measuring the economic value of the outdoor recreation industry, which averages $646 billion dollars in revenue to the United States.  Currently, the U.S. government counts other sectors — like oil and gas, ranching, manufacturing, travel and tourism and the arts — but until today’s announcement, it had yet to include outdoor recreation as a part of Gross Domestic Product reports.  Jewell’s initiative would allow the federal government to track outdoor recreation the same as other sectors.

To read more about Jewell’s initiative, follow this link to GearJunkie.com.

Clinton Unveils Plan for America’s Public Lands

Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled her vision for stewardship of America’s public lands.  Among other aspects of the vision, it includes the following highlights:

  • Set a goal of doubling the size of the outdoor economy within 10 years, creating millions of new jobs and up to $700 billion dollars in new annual economic activity;
  • Celebrate the 100thanniversary of our country’s national park system – America’s “best idea” – by establishing an American Parks Trust Fund to scale up and modernize how we protect and enhance our country’s great outdoors;
  • Launch an initiative to restore and revitalize more than 3000 city parks within ten years;
  • Make public lands an engine of our clean energy economy through a ten-fold increase in renewable energy production on public lands and waters within ten years;
  • Expand access to public lands for hunting, fishing and recreation by making publicly accessible 50% of the public land that is currently inaccessible;
  • Combat our national water challenges, including through a new Water Innovation Lab and a Western Water Partnership.

Read more about Clinton’s plan here.

Montana Develops Office of Outdoor Recreation

Following Utah’s lead in developing a state Office of Outdoor Recreation, Montana recently announced that it too will have an Office of Outdoor Recreation.  This news comes on the heels of Washington State and Colorado developing offices of their own.

Montana Governor Bullock announced plans for the following:

  • To create the “Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation,” housed in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development;
  • Create and hire a new position, a “Public Access Specialist” for Montana within the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, whose role will be to troubleshoot specific issues preventing full public access to public lands (as of today the position is currently accepting applications);
  • Ask the legislature to fully fund Habitat Montana, which uses license fees to increase access to public lands but was recently frozen by lawmakers;
  • Call on Montanans to solicit ideas about how to improve access to public lands throughout Montana by utilizing the keepitpublic@mt.gov email address; and
  • Recommit his unequivocal stance against transferring or selling of public lands.

Utah created the first Office of Outdoor Recreation in 2014.  Brad Petersen was the first Director of the Office and ushered in bill HB52 to fund the office with a one time, $1,000,000 operating budget.  University of Utah Parks, Recreation, and Tourism graduate Tom Evans stepped in as the second Director of the Office.  To read more about Govenor Bullock’s plan, follow the link here.

University of Utah in the running for “Top Adventure School”

The University of Utah is participating in the annual “Top Adventure School” tournament hosted by Elevation Outdoors.  At press time, Utah is leading the University of Idaho 62% to 38%.

We think that the University of Utah deserves to win.  From U-EXPLORE and Outdoor Adventures to the best access to mountains and deserts of any University in the nation, the outdoors has long been central to Utah students, staff, and faculty.  Researchers Jim Sibthorp, Dan Dustin, Matt Brownlee, David Strayer, and Kevin Rathunde have long been describing the value of the outdoors and wilderness.

To vote for the University of Utah for the “Top Adventure School”, follow this link to Elevation Outdoors.  To vote for the University of Idaho, please just keep it to yourself.

Obama and Family to Visit Yosemite National Park

The White House announced that President Obama and his family plan to visit Yosemite National Park next week, the first president to do so since John F. Kennedy.


Obama has been active in protecting wildlands since taking office in 2009.  He has added protection to 256 million acres of public lands and waters.  256 million acres is equivalent to 400,000 square miles.  By comparison, Texas is 268,580 square miles.

We haven’t heard yet if he plans to do any climbing while in Yosemite, but we can always hope.


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