Leonardo DiCaprio foundation backs Bears Ears National Monument

Headshot photo shows environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio during a visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 23, 2016. Background photo shows the Cedar Mesa region of the Bears Ears National Monument, southeast Utah, date not specified | DiCaprio photo by Rebecca Roth; landscape photo courtesy of Patagonia, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation is chipping in to support a new national monument in Southern Utah that’s been a flashpoint in the debate over public lands use in the West, officials said Friday.

His environmental group is one of several donating to create the $1.5 million Bears Ears Community Engagement Fund, which is aimed at supporting local efforts to preserve natural resources and protect the park’s trove of archaeological sites from looting and other threats.

The money could be spent on things like locating and putting up signs at ancient sites tucked amid picturesque cliffs, plateaus and towering rock formations in the Bears Ears monument about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, said Michael Scott with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The fund will also support efforts from the five American Indian tribes who will get a say in how the land is managed, a first for a national monument.

A coalition of American Indian tribes pushed the Obama administration to create the monument that protects the land from new mining and oil and gas development. Regarding Native American support for the monument, Utah Congressman Chris Stewart told St. George News in August 2016, that many are not proximately affected by it and that there are many within the state that opposed it.

“… There’s some interest but there are also many who oppose it,” Stewart said in August 2016. “Many of the tribal interests who support the Bears Ears (monument) live outside of the state.”

See more: In Focus with Chris Stewart on public lands, future of Bears Ears 

DiCaprio sent out messages on his Facebook and Instagram accounts in May 2016 urging people to sign petitions in support. A representative for DiCaprio didn’t immediately have comment on the donation Friday.

President Barack Obama designated the 1.35-million-acre monument in the Four Corners region in December despite objections from Utah Republican leaders and rural residents who said it will add another layer of unnecessary federal control.

It’s a common argument in the battle over use of the American West’s vast open spaces, and one that opponents of the monument hope has traction during Donald Trump’s presidency. Opponents agree the area is worth preserving but argue the federal designation will go too far and bar people from camping, hiking or gathering wood.

Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press. St. George News contributed the reference to August 2016 statements by Utah Congressman Chris Stewart.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Not_So_Much January 16, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Does this mean others can tell him what he can and can not do with any property he owns? Can’t we all enjoy what he has in a way we find best? After all we can protect it better.

    • comments January 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      The butthurt runs deep in this one. You need a crying towel? Poor baby.

    • Chris January 16, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      You are not making any sense. The Bear Ears monument has nothing to do with private property. It belongs to all U.S. citizens equally, not just Utahns. Maybe, you are one of those confused people who think that federal land within the borders of Utah belongs to the state.

  • Lastdays January 16, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Well if Leo says so………… I guess it’s legit !

  • walkingutah January 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Keep Hollywood and the rest of California out of Utah. Just because a celebrity says it’s the right thing to do doesn’t mean they’re correct.

    • godisdead January 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Another bigoted comment. The facts are that the area has been plundered by the locals for years, even to the extent that grave robbing occurred. I applaud anyone who puts their money toward their beliefs.
      If you don’t like it, move to Deseret. Oh that’s right, Deseret is now part of the US and US laws apply.

  • DB January 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Leo has probably never been to Bear’s Ears and probably never will, except to make a movie, perhaps.

    • godisdead January 16, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      So what? It’s well known that he acts and supports environmental concerns. He’s an American and should be thanked for acting like one.

  • Foxyheart January 16, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    Another Hollywood elite telling us what to do. This, the person who uses his own private jet and his own luxury yacht (pollution), telling us how to preserve our own lands. Get real and get out of our lives. His real claim to fame? pretending to be someone he is not for a job and womanizing. A true icon……not

    • godisdead January 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      Quit your whining. He donated a substantial amount of money for a cause he believes in. That’s his right.

  • comments January 16, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Let’s privatize and fence off all of it so all these idiots will stop whining incessantly about “the feds are stealing all the land”. But after we do that they’ll piss and moan and whine about having nowhere to hunt, fish, and drive their sxs atvs. The real problem isn’t so much ‘what do we do with the land’ as much as ‘how do we stop these whiners’ and get them to put a sock in it. What is it about the land going to state control that you idiots don’t realize YOU WILL NO LONGER HAVE ACCESS TO THE LAND–IT WILL BE SOLD OFF AND PRIVATIZED. I think the brain damage/idiocy is just too great with them.

    • .... January 16, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      Oh the butthurt runs deep on this one. you want a crying towel cry baby !

  • January20 January 16, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Just the latest celebutard with a cause! This one’s trust using money possibly embezzled from Malaysia. Our best hope is for Trump to reduce this monument to about 10% of what it is now and only protect what truly needs protecting so all the good people of Grand and San Juan counties can continue to make a living over there.

    • mesaman January 16, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      I had felt that the size was far more than necessary. It was unilateral with Bammie Bojangles calling the shots. San Juan would most likely suffer most of the brunt of the decision. Not all Navajos supported it. And political leaders on the right overwhelmingly fought it while the losers found something to be proud of, not much, but at least it was symbolic of their plight. But now, with Leonardo di Capri-o jumping in on it, that sways the power to the other side. After all, members of the fantasy-make-believe world of Horrorwood know more about reality than any of us earthlings out here.

  • commonsense January 16, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Sad that an outsider is even listened to. Those most impacted should have most say.
    It is cowardly to use your position of media accessibility to influence public policy.
    Hollywood shudders when government tries to influence their craft but they feel free to stick their nose in matters unrelated where they have no expertise.

    • Rainbow Dash January 18, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      “It is cowardly to use your position of media accessibility to influence public policy.”

      The next time you post your support of the Mormon cult leaders doing the very same thing, I’ll remind you that you said that.

  • timfromidaho January 17, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Thank you Leo for making such a generous donation to a great resource that will benefit everyone who visits the Bears Ears. You are truly a class act. Many of us have made contributions which may not be as large, but we’re made with the same conviction that this monument is special and deserves to be protected for future generations to learn about the people who inhabited these places thousands of years ago. Your generosity will be appreciated by many for years to come.

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