BLM requests public input on improvements at popular Bears Ears National Monument site

Proposed improvements would educate visitors at House on Fire while protecting the site’s resources

MONTICELLO, Utah — As a part of ongoing efforts to protect cultural resources through educating visitors and improving services associated with Bears Ears National Monument, today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released an environmental assessment. The environmental assessment analyzes proposed improvements to the trailhead and services at the House on Fire site. The BLM is requesting public input to help inform the proposal. 

“We all can play a role in caring for this nationally significant Ancestral Puebloan site,” said Monument Manager Jake Palma. “These picturesque granaries help tell the story of the people who lived here before and their descendants who still rely on the landscape. This proposal, if approved, would help the BLM protect cultural resources and improve visitor experiences.”

House on Fire is one of the most popular sites in Bears Ears National Monument, and current infrastructure is insufficient for the increasing visitor demand. The BLM estimates that site visitation has increased by about four times since 2015. The proposal considered in the environmental assessment includes developing a formal parking area and trailhead with associated facilities (e.g., toilet, picnic table, education signage) to help make it easy for visitors to interact with sensitive culture sites appropriately and have a good, meaningful experience. Construction of these facilities would reduce issues created by roadside parking and consolidate the trailhead, fee area, and interpretive and educational information in one location. 

The BLM encourages input throughout our planning processes. Consultation with sovereign Tribal Nations for this project is ongoing and the BLM committed to strengthening government-to-government relationships. The BLM completed formal scoping for this project in the spring of 2020 and received nine comments. Most comments were generally supportive and provided input that has informed the project. The Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Committee, comprised of volunteers representing many different specialties and interests, provided input on the proposal during their February 2020 meeting.

Written comments on the proposal will be accepted through ePlanning or by mail through October 11 at 11:59 p.m. Please note that the most useful comments are specific and contain new technical or scientific information relevant to the proposed actions. Comments which contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response but may be considered in the BLM decision-making process. Please reference “House on Fire” when submitting comments by mail.

  • ePlanning:
  • Mail: BLM Monticello Field Office Att: House on Fire Trailhead, P.O. Box 7, Monticello, Utah 84535

Before including an address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in any comments, be aware that the entire comment—including personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. Requests to withhold personal identifying information from public review can be submitted, but the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

For additional information, please contact the Monticello Field Office at (435) 587-1500. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message or question for the above individual. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.

Bears Ears National Monument, located in southeast Utah, encompasses 201,876 acres of public lands and is administered jointly between the BLM and U.S. Forest Service. The monument and surrounding area have a rich cultural heritage and is sacred to many American Indian tribes who rely on these lands for traditional and ceremonial uses. Much of this landscape is still actively grazed by livestock, used for personal firewood and plant collection, and is available for many forms of recreation. In fiscal year 2020, the BLM estimates there were 161,247 visitors to Bears Ears National Monument—more specifically 35,336 to the Shash Jaa Unit and 125,911 to the Indian Creek Unit. People interested in visiting Bears Ears National Monument should prepare in advance and contact the BLM Monticello Field Office or the Kane Gulch Ranger Station for information about the area and current conditions. Visitors should follow Leave No Trace Principles and visit with respect. Tips to enjoy respectfully include packing out trash; staying on hardened surfaces; not writing or drawing on rocks or trees; leaving what you find; and not touching or damaging archaeological sites, including standing structures and rock art.

The House on Fire site is approximately 24 miles outside of Blanding, Utah and can be accessed from a paved road. The trail to access the site is approximately two miles round-trip.

Flickr (Public Domain Photos) Bears Ears National Monument House on Fire Site

This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

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Rachel Wootton