Protecting Southwestern Culture & Environment

“One of the most depressing features connected with the work in the Pueblo region is the evidence of vandalism and unskilled exploration encountered on almost all of the prehistoric sites.” – Walter Hough, 1901

Over one hundred years later, Hough’s comment is unfortunately still as valid today as it was in 1901.  In 2012, we have the opportunity to help preserve one of the Southwest’s greatest cultural and natural resources, the Greater Canyonlands region.  Currently, this area is under the jurisdiction of several different organizations, but only a small portion is designated national park land.  The threats to resources in this region may be the same, but they now have the capability to cause greater damage.  Heavy machinery, unregulated exploration, and simply the increase in human foot traffic all have had a massive impact.  The regional map below shows the areas that are already protected and the areas that are currently being threatened.

Image © The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (2012). Click for larger.

My family and I have a strong connection with this region; that little dot labeled Monticello is our home base in the West.  While my own research takes me south, I also enjoy the depth and breadth of historical beauty to be found in Greater Canyonlands purely for aesthetic and spiritual reasons.  The visible timeline in this area is awe-inspiring, because environmental conditions have ensured excellent preservation of everything from artistic endeavors to food storage units of various native peoples.  The problem is then that the delicate balance of climate, environment, and simply being admired sparingly is easily destroyed in contemporary times when there is a general lack of regulation and understanding.

12,000 years of human history resides in the Canyonlands.  The geological and environmental history is, of course, even more ancient, expressing a timelessness that inspired the mythologies of the Basketmaker and Ancestral Pueblo peoples, as well as their descendants into contemporary times.  Living heritage in the Canyonlands would, without a doubt, be destroyed if these threats are allowed to continue.  Oil and gas drilling, tar sands exploration, potash development, and off-road vehicles all contribute greatly to the accelerated destruction of the Canyonlands social landscape, not just the environment.

For more information please visit The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance website.

Consider sending a letter to President Obama through the website and look for other ways you can help if Canyonlands is as special to you as it is to me!

Works Cited

Hough, W. 1901. “Archaeological field work in northeastern Arizona.  The Museum-Gates Expedition of 1901,” in Report of the United States National Museum.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 2012. “Saving Greater Canyonlands: A campaign to protect the heart of Utah’s Redrock Country,”


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