Bears Ears, Lead’s big unknown, Hike like a girl

HCN.org news in brief.

 

THE MONUMENTAL CONTROVERSY OVER BEARS EARS
In October, five Native American tribes formally asked President Barack Obama to designate a 1.9 million-acre swath of land in southeastern Utah as the Bears Ears National Monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The proposal is notable for the large amount of land it includes, as well as for its management structure, which would give tribes unprecedented control. The request gained the support of two-dozen tribal governments, as well as the endorsement of the National Congress of American Indians. But one of seven Utah Navajo chapters opposes it, with some members alleging that monument supporters are the pawns of “deep-pocketed outside groups.” The conflict has grown increasingly strident, building on decades of tension over federal land management. Still, federal officials have indicated that pockets of local opposition may not be enough to stop the monument in its tracks.  
-Jonathan Thompson

Lower Comb Ridge looking north into what may someday be the Bears Ears National Monument.
Jonathan Thompson

GLACIER TROUT

10: number of the 17 Glacier National Park lake systems west of the Continental Divide where native bull trout are being pushed out by invasive fish

Climate change exacerbates the threat to native trout by warming waters and disrupting precipitation patterns, so Glacier National Park managers have developed a new plan: Move threatened bull trout to colder, higher-elevation habitats previously inaccessible to fish. The plan would allow genetically pure populations to thrive in waters free from invasive fish species and insulated from rising temperatures. The effort is one of the first examples in the West of wildlife managers accounting for climate change in a more direct approach to save species.
-Bryce Gray

USFWS/ Jim Mogen

WATER TALKS 

8,000 - 512,000: Rrange in the acre-feet of water Nevada, California and Arizona could relinquish if the level of Lake Mead — which hit historic lows in mid-May — drops below targets.

Lake Mead’s water levels continue to sink amid the ongoing drought. A drop to 1,075 feet above sea level, as measured on Jan. 1, will begin harsh water rationing for California, Arizona and Nevada, as well as potential involvement by the federal government. In order to fend off intervention and boost the reservoir’s levels, the states have returned to the negotiation table. All have agreed to make additional water cuts, on top of those they agreed to in previous talks. The three states’ willingness to collectively ration their water use is yet another signal that new climate realities are re-shaping old confrontation-driven water politics.
-Sarah Tory 

LEAD'S BIG UNKNOWN
The rural West’s lead risks are often overlooked. Although the region doesn’t have many lead-emitting industries, it harbors sources like mining sites, shooting ranges and game meat. However, the majority of Western states don’t report information about children’s blood lead levels to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making this region’s data the most elusive in the country. 
-Lyndsey Gilpin

END OF AN ERA
In late April, hundreds of sticks of dynamite toppled the historic coal silo at Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine in Somerset, Colorado, leaving the hillside covered in black dust. Mining operations there ceased in 2013, but many people clung to the hope it would resume operations. Onlookers reflect on the community’s history, and speculate about the future of their community.
-Jay Canode

The Oxbow coal silo is demolished in Somerset, Colorado.
Jay Canode

HIKE LIKE A GIRL
In an opinion piece, Liz Thomas, a Japanese-American long-distance record-breaking hiker, wrote about “the perception of the outdoors as ‘not a woman’s place.’ ” Women are often chided for travelling in the woods alone and were once barred from public-lands jobs. Thomas urged women to challenge that stereotype by getting out and hiking.

You say

Julie Ware Olsen: “I’m gonna do it!”

Olivia Bentley: “As a woman who has hiked and ridden horseback alone since early childhood, I have only rarely had an issue and only once felt ‘in danger.’ ” 

Ann Snyder: “Out in the outdoors alone, mostly you have to face yourself, and just be confident, careful and use common sense.”