That’s the equivalent of 17 Mount Rainiers, 23 Mount Shastas, or 39 Mount Washingtons! 

If you don’t know much about Bears Ears National Monument, aside from the White House’s highly controversial decision to drastically reduce its size, you’re not alone.

Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah is an expanse of red rock and juniper forests, marked by two, distinct buttes that resemble — you guessed it, bears ears. It’s not easy to reach, and there isn’t much information available to visitors. But it’s a land that’s rich in history, beauty, and cultural significance. Visitation to the region has been increasing over the past decade, and the recent controversy surrounding public lands is inspiring even more people to explore Bears Ears and other national monuments. And while increased curiosity about this special place is great, irresponsible or uninformed visitors pose a serious threat to the preservation of the land.

In Short: Bears Ears needs a visitor center. 

Friends of Cedar Mesa, a non-profit conservation group based in Bluff, Utah, is stepping up to make that happen. And this past weekend, 8 athletes and public lands activists banded together in a physically-grueling challenge to help fundraising efforts. There’s still time for you to help, too.

Establishing The Bears Ears Visit With Respect Education Center

“Whether Bears Ears is a national monument or not; whether it’s 1.3 million acres or 3,000 acres, it’s still important.” — Bears Ears Education Center Kickstarter video

The Bears Ears Visit With Respect Education Center will inform visitors on how to responsibly explore this national monument. As the first national monument to be designated at the request of indigenous tribes, this is especially important. Bears Ears contains sites that are spiritually and culturally significant to local tribes, and the visitor’s center will be an educational hub to help visitors to respectfully interact with surrounding land. Additionally, Bears Ears contains over 100,000 archeological sites and fragile resources — there’s a lot to learn about, here!

Friends of Cedar Mesa has partnered with Duct Tape Then Beer to launch a Kickstarter to raise a portion of the $840,000 goal.

Guerilla Activism for Bears Ears Raises Big Bucks

Professional skier Caroline Gleich and mountain runner Luke Nelson came up with the idea for a “vert-a-thon” to raise money towards the Bears Ears Education Center Kickstarter campaign, which they called #100KforBearsEars. They were joined by fellow athletes and activists who collectively blew their goal out of the water (or more accurately, blew it out of the snow and rocky terrain) covering 157,975 feet in total. While they hiked, ran, skinned, and skied up steep slopes, over and over again, people pledged per foot donations or lump sums to the Bears Ears Kickstarter. The original goal for the Kickstarter was set at $100,000 and it has currently raised over $179,000.

Caroline Gleich put in her biggest day ever on skis. (And she has had some BIG days on skis.)

Rob Lea skied and climbed over 15,000 feet.

A post shared by Rob Lea (@rob.lea) on

Luke Nelson covered his vert by running up and down Grandeur Peak.

A post shared by Luke Nelson (@slukenelson) on

Brody Leven skied and hiked over 12,000 feet.

A post shared by Brody Leven (@brodyleven) on

These athletes and activists pushed themselves to the limit for an important cause. But you don’t have to be able to crush vertical feet like they do, in order to help.

Donate to the Bears Ears Education Center

#100KforBearsEars is complete, but the work has just begun. Friends of Cedar Mesa will be purchasing a former bar in Bluff, Utah and transforming the space into The Bears Ears Visit With Respect Education Center. Additional funds raised will go towards renovations, staffing, and exhibits. You can contribute to the Kickstarter until December 31.


We’ll continue to follow this story, as well as offering additional resources and information on public lands advocacy and how to #campresponsibly. 

 

Britany Robinson

Britany Robinson

Britany is a writer with bylines in BBC Travel, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, and more. When she's not at her computer, she's (hopefully) outside, hiking or camping with her dog. Oh and she definitely ate all of the chocolate out of the trail mix you're sharing.