Obama Declared 2 New National Monuments and Here's Why Some People Are Mad

December 29th 2016

Almie Rose

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama declared two new national monuments — the Bears Ears region in Utah and the Gold Butte region in Nevada — to a mixture of praise and disapproval.

About the monuments.

Bears Ears is a pair of buttes in Utah, so named because of their resemblance to a pair of bear's ears.

Bears Ears Utah

In 2015, the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and Uintah and Ouray Ute Indian Tribe merged to form the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, demanding the protection of the 1.9 million acres of Bears Ears by making it a national monument or national conservation area, according to E&E News.

As the group wrote on their Facebook page, "the five nations are committed to working together with a total of 25 Tribes and Pueblos who have expressed support for protecting the Bear Ears region for future generations of Americans."

Bears Ears National Monument

Gold Butte, known as "Nevada's Piece of the Grand Canyon," was a former mining area and is now a ghost town. In 2013, Democratic Senator Harry Reid from Nevada introduced the The Gold Butte National Conservation Area Act , which sought to protect around 350,000 acres, according to Nevada Wilderness,

Gold Butte

The newly designated Gold Butte monument covers 300,000 acres, encompassing a region where federal government officials notoriously clashed with the Bundy family of Nevada over grazing rights.

Praise for Obama's decision.

There are many who are happy with Obama's decision to designate these areas as national monuments, believing that by doing so, he is not only protecting the land from those who only want to destroy it, but with the protection of Bears Ears is also showing respect to Native Americans.

But there are some who are angry with Obama's decision.

Prior to Obama's executive action, Republican Senator from Mike Lee penned an op-ed for the Washington Post titled "Why Obama shouldn’t unilaterally declare a Bears Ears monument." In the piece, Lee writes some "Utahns in the region worry that they will no longer be able to use the land for grazing and mineral development."

After the order was signed, Lee tweeted that he would work "tirelessly" to overturn it.

Lee is not alone among Utah Republicans.

Gov. Garry Herbert framed the decision as an example of executive overreach which defied the wishes of Utah's elected legislators.

According to the Washington Post, President Obama has used his executive authority 29 times to protect 553 million acres of lands and waters, exceeding any other President.