AS A CLIMBER I feel a certain connection with the rock, with the land. I think most climbers do. When you’re a hundred feet up a vertical face clinging for what feels like dear life you tend to not take things for granted. So when the environment you live in and love — places that give you so much in life for nothing in exchange — is threatened, you take it personally. And then you do something about it.

Josh Ewing — in partnership with Patagonia, Friends of Cedar Mesa, and several First Nations groups — is calling out for help to protect the Bears Ears region in southeastern Utah. It’s a vast 1.9 million acres of wild desert landscape that is sacred to many Native Americans. With around 100,000 archaeological sites it’s considered to be the US’s most significant unprotected cultural area. Threats include: oil drilling, mining, looting, vandalizing, grave robbing, and irresponsible motor vehicle use.

Besides the cultural importance of the region, the Bears Ears is home to Valley of the Gods, Texas Tower, Jacob’s Chair, Cedar Mesa, the Abajo Mountains and, famously, Indian Creek. Also under threat is the biodiversity of the area and river systems that provide clean drinking water to tens of millions of Americans.

What you can do to help protect this land

Sign the petition to Congress and President Obama calling for the region to be officially recognized and permanently protected as a National Conservation Area or a new National Monument.