President Biden will sit down at a signing ceremony today to restore the size of Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are in Utah), and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the New England coast, to their pre-Trump-era boundaries. Bears Ears will once again be back to 1.36 million acres, with Grand Staircase restored to 1.87 million acres.
In 2017, President Trump reduced the size of Bears Ears by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by about 50%. Uranium mining lobbyists met with the former President in the weeks before he announced the shrinkage, and, presto, uranium mines were suddenly outside the protection of the reduced-in-size monument. Or maybe that was a coincidence.
Commercial fisherman had also lobbied for the opening of the marine monument, to at least a temporary success.
Expect a lawsuit from Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) who promised to sue the federal government if an attempt was made to restore the sizes of the Utah monuments.
“The Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah conserves one of most significant cultural landscapes in the United States, with thousands of archaeological sites and important areas of spiritual significance to Native American people in the region,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We look forward to working with Tribal Nations, local communities, the State and others in Utah to protect and manage these lands for future generations.”
“By acting to right a wrong, the President is reaffirming the proud American promise that our parks and monuments are to be protected for all people and for all time,” said Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory. “The President’s action will ensure that our children, and our children’s children, will be able to experience the wonder, history, and beauty of these extraordinary public lands and waters as we do today.”
Read more from the Department of the Interior, here.
Photo: Patrick Hendry/Unsplash