GRAND GAL­LERIES Lower But­ler Wash

Bears Ears Na­tional Mon­u­ment, Utah

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When for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama es­tab­lished the 1.4mil­lion-acre Bears Ears Na­tional Mon­u­ment on De­cem­ber 28, 2016, he se­cured pro­tec­tions for sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand cul­tural and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites that had suf­fered from loot­ing, grave rob­bing, and en­ergy de­vel­op­ment. Since 2013, state and fed­eral man­agers had flagged more than 100,000 acres along the mon­u­ment’s eastern edge near Bluff, Utah, for po­ten­tial oil and gas leases. Mon­u­ment sta­tus ef­fec­tively put those plans on hold.

Fast-for­ward a year: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der to roll back Bears Ears up to 85 per­cent of its for­mer size ex­poses many sites to re­newed drilling threats. In March, the BLM plans to auc­tion off leases in the Canyon Coun­try Dis­trict, which in­cludes the for­mer Bears Ears. And new wells have been per­mit­ted on BLM land 2 miles north of Bluff, near the old mon­u­ment bound­ary.

Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes, state at­tor­neys gen­eral, and groups such as the Wilder­ness So­ci­ety have all promised to chal­lenge Trump’s ac­tion in court (see page 26). You can show where your al­le­giance lies on the trail. Head into the south­ern cor­ner of the re­duced mon­u­ment—in what was ten­ta­tively called “Shash Jaa Na­tional Mon­u­ment” at press time—to see the Pro­ces­sion Panel, a 1,500-year-old pet­ro­glyph that de­picts 179 hu­man forms march­ing to a cen­tral cir­cle. From the un­marked trailhead on Lower But­ler Wash Road, fol­low the un­signed trail south­west. Cross But­ler Wash and another sandy drainage be­fore climb­ing slick­rock slabs, where cairns mark the route. De­scend into a canyon slic­ing into Comb Ridge and hike west to Pro­ces­sion Panel, 1.4 miles from the trailhead. Puz­zle at the 15-foot­long assem­bly of sheep, ser­pents, deer, and peo­ple (some wear­ing elab­o­rate head­dresses) be­fore re­trac­ing your steps. TRAILHEAD Pro­ces­sion Panel (37.3511, -109.6288) SEA­SON Septem­ber to May PER­MIT None CON­TACT friend­sofcedarmesa.org

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