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As Navajos Voice Opposition for Bears Ears, New Poll says 71% of Utahns Support it

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Nicole Nixon

Navajo leaders from San Juan County gathered at the State Capitol Tuesday to voice their opposition to a potential Bears Ears National Monument.

While the proposed monument has received broad support from Native American leaders, about two dozen Navajo people living in San Juan County met on the Capitol steps to say they oppose it.

Marie Holiday says she supports the original idea of turning Bears Ears into a national conservation area, but a national monument would be going too far. She says many Navajos in Monument Valley go to Bears Ears to collect firewood, herbs and other resources.

“If that becomes a national monument, I know there’s going to be a restriction,” Holiday says.  “And we have to go somewhere else, and that’s about 80 to more than 100 miles away for our people to get firewood.”

Also on Tuesday, a new poll was released that shows 71% of Utahns support designating Bears Ears a national monument. The poll was commissioned by Creation Justice Ministries, a Christian environmental group. Shantha Alonso is the DC-based group’s executive director.

“Most Utahns share the values of preserving God’s creation as well as protecting cultural and historical riches around us,” she says.

Alonso says the poll also found that Utahns support protecting historical sites and wildlife habitat, and   value public lands for recreational opportunities they provide.

Lawmakers will consider a resolution to formally oppose the proposed monument on Wednesday.  

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