Saturday, December 31, 2016


It is once again time for RockArtBlog to award the coveted annual C.R.A.P. (Certifiable Rock Art Prevarication) award for what is one of the year's biggest rock art related prevarications. This year's 2016 award goes to Utah senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee for their legislative attempt to block the creation of Bear's Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, to protect uniquely beautiful lands as well as amazing cultural resources including a large quantity of rock art. A late addition to this prestigious pool is Utah congressman Jason Chaffitz. 

Rock art in proposed Bear's
Ears National Monument.

According to Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune (published on September 15, 2016) "Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee introduced the legislation Thursday to exempt the state from a law allowing the president to designate new national monuments, but critics dismissed the move as a desperate 'Hail Mary' in trying to halt protection of the Bear's Ears region in southeastern Utah."

"The measure would prohibit the president's use of the 1906 Antiquities Act within Utah, extending a loophole that now covers Wyoming, as part of an effort to keep President Barack Obama or his successors from using the unilateral power to create national monuments."
Rock art in proposed Bear's
Ears National Monument.
Photo: Shanna Lewis,

Senator Lee stated "New Yorkers would not appreciate it if Utahns came in and told them what they could and couldn't build in Manhattan, and Utahns don't like it when out-of-state special-interest groups tell us how to use our land either. Over 50 years ago, the state of Wyoming was granted protections from Antiquities Act abuse in their state, and all Utahns are asking is for that same protection to be extended to their state. (The 1950s legislation creating an expanded Grand Teton National Park was passed with the significant concession to opponents that the Antiquities Act would not again be used in Wyoming without the consent of Congress.)" (Burr 2016)

Rock art in proposed Bear's
Ears National Monument.
Photo: Tim Peterson,

Hatch explained his opposition to the monument with the statement "today, we are again faced with the threat of a unilateral designation of another 1.8 million-acre monument in southeast Utah," Hatch said. "Such a designation would far exceed the purpose of the Antiquities Act, which was written specifically to protect special cultural sites and objects limited to the smallest compatible area necessary." (Burr 2016)

Rock art in proposed Bear's
Ears National Monument., Public Domain

A representative for the pro-designation effort explained that "Senator Lee confuses private land in New York for the public lands in Utah that belong to all Americans," said Jen Ujifusa, legislative director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. "The Utah delegation had three years to develop a meaningful and reasonable conservation solution with the Public Lands Initiative, but squandered that opportunity by listening only to industry and parochial interests. This last-ditch Hail Mary shows they know the PLI has failed." (Burr 2016)

In a related internet report on, on December 29, 2016, Karl Nelson, quoted Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz "The midnight move is a slap in the face to the people of Utah." (Nelson 2016)

"Obama said in a statement that the monument will 'protect some of our country's most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archaeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes.'" (Nelson 2016) Please note the wording in President Obama's statement above. This might be the first time that the President of the United States has said the words "rock art" in a press conference, a historic occasion!

It seems to me that this opposition is somehow missing the point. The National Monument designation is intended to protect this wonderful place from mining and petroleum production, uncontrolled four-wheel driving and dirt-biking, and pot-hunting and vandalism of cultural remains and rock art. How is protection a bad thing? Hatch, Lee, and Chaffitz, for their support and advocacy of vandalism and destruction, in this case, are awarded the RockArtBlog 2016 C.R.A.P. award. Congratulations gentlemen.

NOTE: The photographs illustrating this story were retrieved from the internet through a search for "Bear's Ears rock art public domain". If any of them were used mistakenly without permission I apologize.

PS: As of December 29, 2017, President Obama has signed the order to make Bear's Ears a National Monument. President-elect Trump and the Republicans in congress are vowing to overturn it after the change of office in January. I may have to enlarge the recipient pool of the C.R.A.P. award to include the whole Republican party.


Burr, Thomas,
2016     Hatch,Lee seeking Utah exemption from monument-creating Antiquities Act, WWW.SLTRIB.COM, Sept. 16, 2016.

Nelson, Karl
2016     Chaffetz Slams Obama 'Midnight Land Grab',

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