Access Fund: BLM Finalizes Flawed Management Plan for Bears Ears

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The Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that keeps U.S. climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Learn more and become a member here.

Climbing in Bears Ears National Monument | Ute (Nuu-agha-tuvu-pu) and Pueblo Territories.Courtesy Ben Crawford

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just issued a Record of Decision, finalizing its highly flawed Monument Management Plan for Bears Ears. The management plan only covers 15% of the original Bears Ears National Monument landscape, and it fails the climbing community, the environment, and Native American Tribes.

The BLM rushed the development of this plan in an attempt to cement President Trump’s unlawful 2017 executive order to reduce the monument by 85%. Access Fund is engaged in an ongoing lawsuit, arguing that it was illegal for President Trump to reduce the national monument. Access Fund believes this issue should be settled in court before BLM wasted taxpayer dollars on an incomplete management plan. Nonetheless, Access Fund engaged in the BLM’s premature planning process to protect climbing and ensure the situation did not go from bad to worse.

The newly finalized monument management plan postpones the development of a recreation management strategy for another five years. This delay is a recipe for disaster, as it fails to protect cultural resources and traditional values, putting them in the path of irreparable damage.

“This management plan ignores 85% of Bears Ears National Monument. For the rest, BLM has kicked the can down the road and put off critical resource management decisions that are needed now to protect the values that led to the monument designation in the first place,” says Chris Winter Executive Director at Access Fund.

Spectacular cultural resources within Bears Ears National Monument, Ute (Nuu-agha-tuvu-pu) and Pueblo Territories.Courtesy Andrew Burr

Bears Ears National Monument attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year from across the globe to enjoy its world-class rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and motorized recreation. These recreation opportunities must be preserved, however they must also be carefully managed so they don’t impact other national monument values.

The Bears Ears landscape is sacred to at least five Native American Tribes, and it is rich in cultural resources and traditional values that must be protected. This management plan does not do enough to protect the cultural, traditional, ecological, and recreational resources that are so special and unique to the Bears Ears landscape. 

Despite the BLM’s harmful top-down directive, Access Fund remains optimistic that local land managers at the BLM’s Monticello Field Office will do everything they can to protect the valuable resources at Bears Ears. Help support Access Fund’s work to protect Bears Ears and other public lands and climbing areas across the country.

Access Fund is currently analyzing its next move and will keep the community informed. 

About Access Fund

Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing policy and advocacy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. For more information, visit

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