SUWA Seeks Monument Designation For Greater Canyonlands

Sep 23, 2014

Greater Canyonlands Monument

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Greater Canyonlands Coalition have released a new publication. They are calling for the area surrounding Canyonlands National Park to be designated a national monument.   

The Greater Canyonlands area
Credit Photo Courtesy of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

The 1.8 million acres of Greater Canyonlands are overseen by the federal Bureau of Land Management.  If the area is designated a national monument by President Obama, the BLM could seek more funding to protect it. Jerry Spangler is the Executive Director of the Colorado Archeological Alliance and author of the publication. He says Greater Canyonlands is home to an abundance of human history.

“But what they don’t know is that this is one of the most important archeological areas in all of North America,” says Spangler. “There are big caves and alcoves in there that have these stratified layers of human history going back 12,000 years.  It’s like each layer is a page from a different era of the settlement of the New World.”

The relative isolation of the Greater Canyonlands area is perhaps a reason why the archeological treasures there remain undisturbed. But Spangler says backcountry areas are becoming easier to access with off-road vehicles. As time goes by, the area will become more vulnerable.

“There is increasing risk that these sites that have been protected—that are still pristine—will be damaged, destroyed by looters, by inappropriate vehicle use, people that don’t stay on the trails—that kind of thing,” says Spangler.

Spangler is hoping for an executive order from President Obama to make Greater Canyonlands a national monument. Several members of Utah’s congressional delegation strongly oppose a national monument designation for the area.