BLANDING, Utah — Lyle Bayles was born and raised in San Juan County. On a crisp Saturday morning, Bayles loads up his pickup with a terrier named Tick who follows him everywhere. He drives toward the vast public lands outside of town.
Bayles waves to the stray camper or wood gatherer as his truck slowly winds up the mountain. Every once in a while, he spots a deer. But for the most part, it’s just the man and his dog.
On fall afternoons, Bayles and his family go up on the mountain and listen to the elk bugle. Bayles has driven, hiked, or ridden a horse through much of the land surrounding the Bears Ears buttes in southeastern Utah.
“You can go forever and the land is just rugged and untouched,” Bayles said. “There’s peace and quiet like you can’t believe. I’ve been coming out here for years, and I haven’t even scratched the surface.”
But all that might change if Bears Ears is designated as a national monument.
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