Latest: County campaign promotes monuments on the chopping block

San Juan County says ‘Make it Monumental’ while asking for exemption from the Antiquities Act.

  • Monument Valley, Utah.

    John Fowler/Flickr CC


“San Juan County is now the epicenter of a brutal battle over public lands,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, railing against then-President Barack Obama’s designation of Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. In April 2017, President Donald Trump ordered a review of all national monuments since 1996 (“Fact-checking Trump’s Antiquities Act order,” HCN, 4/26/17), ultimately cutting Bears Ears by more than 80 percent. Last May, San Juan County sought to intervene in the ensuing lawsuits, arguing that restoring Bears Ears would hurt its economy.


The county recently launched a tourism campaign, whose tagline, “Make it Monumental,” references Bears Ears and Monument Valley. It’s branding itself as a less-crowded entry point to Utah’s red-rock country, even as its leaders want Utah to be exempted from the Antiquities Act under which the monument was established. In July, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, sponsored such a bill. Meanwhile, public comment on the BLM’s draft management plan for the shrunken Bears Ears is open through Nov. 15.

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