The Bears Ears has been “protected.”

Finally, Native American voices will be heard in this land of their ancestors, and their wisdom used to manage the human element in this landscape: The land itself and its inhabitants are doing just fine.

Finally, BLM will have resources to limit historic resource destruction, if local and state politicians do not move to block funding now headed to San Juan County.

I hope this new marriage brings forth ideas and efforts that educate and allow access while lightening the blow visitors knowingly and unknowingly deal the ancestral remains here of the five tribes.

But landscapes are like organisms. How should I react to someone who tells me they just saved a butterfly … except for part of one wing … and one crucial organ … and half its brain? How can I celebrate the removal of every peak in the Abajos from the proposal, as if watersheds don’t have origins? Or the removal of all the vistas and highlands east of the Canyonlands Basin due to an obsession to extract every drop of oil? Or the removal of huge swaths at the San Juan and Colorado River confluence, Earth’s navel, more beautiful than any god could imagine, for uranium mining speculation, a dead industry here due to low-quality ore and lack of foreseeable need? (Unused toxic uranium “ore” is piling up at the White Mesa Ute reservation, just east of the monument.)

These are head nods to deceivers running San Juan County and Utah, who tell us “backpackers” and their dollars will ruin their way of life, coyotes will ruin their jobs, protective designations will ruin their (public!) lands, but not uranium radiation, toxic petroleum ponds, motorized recreation, trophy hunting – all part of the curious list of pursuits that obsess reactionary antifederalists everywhere in the country. “Keep it like it was!”

Fight corporate extraction and industrial tourism! Rob Bishop, representative of the petroleum industry, is not our man! Time “the people” ignore paid opinions of political “leaders” and work together on good land management, including areas dropped from the monument. May the way be difficult, fraught with sand traps, box canyons, labyrinthian sandstone mazes, impenetrable forests, pinnacles, ridges and wild desert storms.

To keep what we love, we need to speak it, be it, convey it, not just grumble on the sidelines.

Everyone on all sides of this issue has told me they are concerned this place will be overrun, the magic will be lost, destruction is inevitable. They want to keep it like it is. How? 1: Limit vendors and permittees; 2: Don’t pave and improve roads; 3: Stop state and local governments from advertising it – people will find it on their own if they care to; 4: Make internet braggarts pay heavily for publicizing archaeological sites; 5: Prosecute illegitimate internet marketers of site locations; 6: Partner with groups that teach informed, respectful low-impact visitation to this disappearing resource.

Archaeological sites are the definition of a non-renewable resource. They won’t be around forever, but we can make the experience last and share it if we make it a priority to walk lightly in beauty.

Fortunately, ecosystems are alive, and with good stewardship, they can be healthy indefinitely. I’m thrilled the Diné, Hopi, Ute and Zuni will be given the chance to build a wise management plan with the managing agencies and other locals. I feel the more we cast aside differences, fears, egos and extremes of belief, the better we will defend and share that which we all hold dear.