Saturday, May 12, 2018

Bears Ears is open for business

Forty miles as the crow flies west of Blanding, Utah, just up the road from the former uranium boomtown of Fry Canyon and a dirt airstrip, is a parcel of federal land historically valued for its radioactive metal and other hardrock minerals. The tracks of mule deer and cattle criss-cross a maze of red rock, cacti and parched-looking shrubs. The only signs of human life are the contrails from airlines overhead and the sound of an occasional car buzzing along State Route 95. Here is where I decided to stake my claim, the first step a prospector takes to mine public lands. For a year, this remote and magnificent desert landscape was part of Bears Ears National Monument and off-limits to new mining claims. That changed in December when President Donald Trump reduced the 1.35 million-acre monument by 85 percent. The more stringent protections the Obama-era monument designation afforded officially lifted in early February, leaving sites like this once again open for business. The Bureau of Land Management braced for a potential influx of new claims...MORE

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