Vet Voice Foundation today applauds the announcement that President Obama designated Bears Ears and Gold Butte national monuments, located in southern Utah and southern Nevada, respectively. Veterans have supported efforts for several years to conserve these important pieces of American landscapes and cultural history.
Paul D. Eaton, Major General, US Army (Retired) and Managing Director, Vet Voice Foundation released the following statement:
“As veterans, we served to protect our nation’s citizens, values and lands. We have not forgotten the oath we swore to sacrifice ourselves to defend the lands we love. The commitment we feel from our service to defend the American way of life extends to the public lands that belong to all American citizens. For these reasons and many more, Vet Voice Foundation and our 450,000 members proudly thank President Obama for protecting the Gold Butte and Bears Ears National Monuments. Protected open spaces are important to veterans reintegrating to civilian life. Our national public lands, including Bears Ears and Gold Butte, are a place where veterans repair and renew bonds with family and friends after long deployments, and it important we continue to preserve America’s antiquities.”
Protection of Gold Butte and Bears Ears will help safeguard important archaeological, cultural and natural resources from looting, vandalism, and industrial activities while also ensuring that present and future generations can enjoy and explore these public lands, learn about the history of indigenous cultures, and continue a host of traditional public land uses.
“Protected open spaces are also important to veterans reintegrating to civilian life.” said Nevada-based, retired Marine Corps veteran Pamela Alfred. “Without outdoor areas like Gold Butte veterans and service members would have nowhere to go to find the spiritual and physical healing our minds and bodies need after military duty. These outdoor spaces is what I love about Nevada and why we fought for this country.”
Gold Butte – Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon – is beloved by Nevadans and visitors from throughout the country and across the world who come to hike, camp, hunt, ride ATVs on designated routes, climb, explore cultural and historical sites, and otherwise enjoy the great outdoors. The Gold Butte National Monument will preserve a region that is rich in cultural, natural and historical resources, including ancient petroglyphs, caves, agave roasting pits and camp sites dating back at least 3,000 years, as well as artifacts from Spanish exploration in the 1700s, and pioneer mining camps from the 1800s. The monument will also conserve habitat for numerous wildlife species, including desert tortoise, desert bighorn sheep, the banded Gila monster, great horned owls and a great variety of reptiles, birds and mammals.
“Gold Butte is a unique area in Nevada that deserved permanent protection. Areas like these inspire many veterans and remind them of how important their sacrifice was for future Americans. We are excited that the historic cultural sites, wildlife and extensive recreational opportunities will be preserved for future generations to come," said Nevada based Marine Corps veteran Zachary Tenhaeff.
Bears Ears – Americans most significant cultural landscape earns – its name for the twin buttes in the heart of the area that rise high above the piñon-juniper forests, deep canyons, inspiring arches, and arresting red rock formations that adorn and surround the renowned and majestic Cedar Mesa.
The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition has led a broad-based effort to safeguard the more than 100,000 Native American cultural sites in this landscape, continuing an effort that has been going on for decades. Many tribes throughout the southwest have ancestral connections to these lands, which is why tribal governments in the region, local grassroots Navajo and Ute people, and the vast majority of the citizens of Utah support the monument designation.
Protection of Bears Ears will help end the rampant and ongoing grave robbing, looting and destruction of scared sites. These acts literally rob Native American people of spiritual connections as well as a sense of place and history. The national monument honors our Native American’s deep connection with these lands, while ensuring continued access for current traditional uses such as hunting, spiritual ceremonies, and gathering of firewood, pinon, and medicinal herbs.
Utah Air Force Veteran Barry Bonifas said, “I first discovered the Bears Ears area shortly after I left the USAF. I've been returning to it, when I feel the need for restoration, for almost half a century. It is such a special and unique place. I can't remember anyone who hasn't been astounded by the beautiful mesas and canyons filled with ruins and rock art.”
Military veterans expressed their support for President Obama designating Bears Ears as a National Monument in a letter signed by 247 veterans from the Four Corners states (UT, CO, NM, and AZ), including 35 Utah veterans.
“We thank you, President Obama, for listening to local Nevada and Utah residents, veterans, tribes, business owners, community and tourism leaders, as well as citizens throughout the country who understood the urgent need to protect these magnificent places,” said Garett Reppenhagen, Vet Voice Foundation’s Rocky Mountain Director. “Vet Voice Foundation stands ready to work with advocates around the country to protect and preserve the legacy you and so many presidents before you established by protecting our nation’s heritage through the Antiquities Act.”