Encore: Jonathan Thompson of High Country News on Bear's Ears

Dec 29, 2016

KSUT spoke to Thompson a few months ago about the debate over how to manage a large area of federal land in southeast Utah. We revisit the interview in the wake of President Obama's recent declaration of the land as Bear's Ears National Monument.

Lower Comb Ridge looking north into what the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.
Credit Courtesy of Jonathan Thompson

Obama announced the designation of the 1.35-million acre monument Wednesday. The land is currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Multiple Native American tribes formed a coalition to support the monument designation, as a way of protecting what they see as their cultural resources.

The decision is drawing heavy fire from Utah politicians, some Native Americans, and many white residents of the region, who view it as federal overreach.

Jonathan Thompson of High Country News is intimately familiar with both the land of southeastern Utah, and the years-long effort to protect part of it as a national monument.

He joined us in the KSUT studios a few months ago, when the monument proposal was still competing with another one known as the Public Lands Initiative. We talked about the background of the two proposals, and on the roots of the so-called 'Sagebrush Rebellion' in southeast Utah, a movement that objects to federal land control.

With Obama's declaration, some of the points discussed in this interview are no longer valid. Others are now more so.


Additional background:

Bear's Ears a Go, But Here's Where Obama Drew The Line
(By Jonathan Thompson, High Country News, December 29, 2016)

In Utah, the Fight for a Bear's Ears Monument Heats Up
(By Jonathan Thompson, High Country News, May 3, 2016)

Text of the Proclamation Establishing Bear's Ears National Monument
(Published on the White House website, December 28, 2016)