What Could Be Lost
By: Matt Sandler, Rocky Mountain Wild
June 8, 2017
After setting up camp I took the boys for a hike to explore the area. The petroglyphs at the site had piqued my interest. We began searching the cliff walls, alcoves, and caves for signs of past inhabitants. Where did they live, which paths did they walk, was this dry wash a hunting ground? What did these true natives think and believe. We found this odd feature overlooking the dry river bed that did not look natural.
Was this a platform used for hunting, or a supported pad for some other purpose?
What is so amazing about being here is that you get to experience the views and landscape that the Native Americans experienced. The rock features have not changed. The sun rose and set in the same directions and the moon waxed and waned. Sure, today there are roads and signs and evidence of modern life; but much is the same. You can’t get this type of experience in a museum. You get to play archeologist and sociologist. This is one of the reasons President Obama saw fit to designate this 1.35 million acre area as a National Monument. With Valley of the Gods to the South and Indian Creek to the far North, this entire area is a landscape of varying characteristics and ecosystems. From the lower elevation desert stone monoliths to the high alpine forests surrounding the namesake “Bears Ears” formations. We are camped somewhere in between.
Our first day we drove up and over Bears Ears Pass. We stopped at the top and hiked to a beautiful aspen grove. A lush green meadow spanned below.
We were now on Forest Service land, as opposed to the Bureau of Land Management land we had been exploring. It is unique to have a National Monument spanning multi-agency boundaries. But, these boundaries were not drawn with cultural or biological significance in mind. I wonder if boundaries were drawn here in the past.
As we continue our drive to the other side of the Pass we meander through conifer and aspen groves. I believe Leo counted 9 deer.
I realized that although we had seen many deer prints near our camp, we had not seen any deer. They must have already migrated to higher elevations for the summer.
Often we’d pass Forest Service roads leading to unknown locations. I imagine each goes to another amazing canyon, viewpoint, or interesting location I may never see. I glimpsed an unknown canyon and had to stop to take a picture.
I’d feel much better knowing that these unknown places will remain protected as a National Monument and not suffer from irresponsible management and “multi-use” mandates.
I feel pessimistically confident that Trump will strip this area of its current federal protections. I hope I’m wrong, but he seems fairly predictable. I take solace in believing the most beautiful and culturally significant areas will be protected. But the large scale connected landscape is what makes this area unique. Let’s fight to protect that.
It’s one thing to sit at a computer and fight to protect these areas, but quite another to actually experience what could be lost.
Did you see The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 9, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 8, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 7, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 6, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 5, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 4, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 3, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 2, or The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 1?