In the same legislative session, another draft resolution declared that the “highest and best use” of Cedar Mesa was energy development.
In Lockhart Basin and on Hatch Point and Harts Point in the northern reaches of the Bears Ears region, breathtaking landscapes once slated for inclusion in Canyonlands National Park face contemporary threats from oil and gas drilling and potash mining which would forever mar the landscape. These areas, which can be seen prominently from Grandview Point in the park, deserve preservation for future generations. Both oil and gas and potash exist in abundance outside the Bears Ears region; Bears Ears is too wild and untouched to sacrifice.
Uranium was once mined here too in great quantities, and though the boom has ended, many sites are still hazardous to the health of humans, plants and wildlife. Much higher quality uranium resources exist nearby, and as the scars of uranium extraction fade, Bears Ears deserves a chance to heal.
Small but significant deposits of tar sands exist here too, buried deep under the spectacular scenery of White Canyon. Though their development is unlikely, new protections are needed here to make sure these tar sands, the dirtiest form of oil on earth, remains in the ground.
While our Coalition is not opposed to energy development, we believe the Bears Ears area is too valuable to drill for temporary economic gain. Rather than sacrificing this incomparable place for the extraction of the low-quality energy and mineral resources found here which exist in abundance elsewhere, the National Park-quality landscape, wildlife, recreational, cultural, and historical resources found in the Bears Ears region deserve permanent protection. A protective designation for the area would protect the unrivaled landscape and irreplaceable cultural and historic resources here from future mineral and energy development. However, valid existing rights for mining and energy development could still be developed within the proposal area.