Indian Creek, Cedar Mesa Under Threat by Utah Legislature

In the southeast corner of Utah—from the San Juan River north to Indian Creek and from Comb Wash to Grand Gulch in the west—millions of acres of incomparable desert landscape are under threat. This area is home to landmarks such as Cedar Mesa, Valley of the Gods, the Abajo Mountains, and the crack-climbing mecca of Indian Creek.

By Hayden Carpenter | May 4th, 2015

“If you really want to have an adventure,” says Josh Ewing, “there’s a place out here for ya.” Photo: Mikey Schaefer / Patagonia.In the southeast corner of Utah—from the San Juan River north to Indian Creek and from the Colorado River Valley to Grand Gulch in the west—millions of acres of incomparable desert landscape are under threat. This area is home to landmarks such as Cedar Mesa, Bears Ears, Valley of the Gods, the Abajo Mountains, and the crack-climbing mecca of Indian Creek.

David Roberts, climber and award winning author who has made more than 60 trips to Cedar Mesa, calls it “one of the most sublime and culturally evocative landscapes on Earth.”

The plateau, canyons, towers, arches and ancient Puebloan ruins remain “undoubtedly the most significant unprotected archaeological area in the United States,” says Josh Ewing, local climber and executive director of the advocacy group Friends of Cedar Mesa.

But what’s left of this land, already damaged from unsustainable recreational use, looting and vandalism, may soon be lost.

The state of Utah aims to reclaim Cedar Mesa and surrounding public lands for “energy exploration,” declaring livestock grazing and “energy and mineral development” to be the “highest and best use” for the area.

 

A Unified Coalition

Bears Ears proposed conservation area. Photo: Defined by the Line / Patagonia. CLICK TO ZOOMA band of environmental and cultural advocacy groups have joined ranks in the fight to protect these public lands—1.9 million acres of wild, desert landscape; more than 100,000 archeological sites in a network of mesas and canyons considered sacred to many Native American Tribes and Pueblos; and some of the best desert, adventure climbing that the southwest has to offer.

Together, with Friends of Cedar Mesa, Utah Diné Bikéyah, Conservation Lands Foundation, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Grand Canyon Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have come together to form what they’re calling the Bears Ears Coalition.

“We’re not going to get back the place we knew in the past,” Ewing wrote in a blog post, “but we can achieve a better future … and yes it’ll be a different place than it is even today…but it’ll be far better than oil rigs, ATVs, looters, and uneducated visitors everywhere we look.”


Get Involved

Sign the petition and join local climbers, Native Americans and conservationists in the fight to protect Bears Ears as a National Conservation Area or National Monument.

 


Defined by the Line: The Fight to Protect Bears Ears 

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