Monday, October 11, 2021

Biden restores Bears Ears and other national monuments to Obama-declared sizes and protections, reversing Trump

Bears Ears National Monument in Utah (Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey)
"President Biden on Friday restored full protections to three national monuments that had been slashed in size by former president Donald Trump, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah — known for their stunning desert landscapes and historical treasures of Native American art and settlements, as well as a rich fossil record," Joshua Partlow reports for The Washington Post.

Invoking the 1906 Antiquities Act, "Biden used an executive order to protect 1.36 million acres in Bears Ears — slightly larger than the original boundary that President Barack Obama established in 2016 — while also restoring the 1.87 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument," Partlow reports. "Biden also reimposed fishing restrictions in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument . . . off the coast of New England that Trump had opened to commercial fishing."

President Biden campaigned on restoring protection to the monuments, and in June Interior Secretary Deb Haaland recommended that Biden do so, but conservationists and tribal activists had become frustrated that he hadn't done it yet, Partlow reports.

"Biden’s decision on the monuments, while expected, remains controversial, particularly in Utah. Miners are interested in the area for its stores of uranium and other minerals. Ranchers also use the land for grazing cattle. The area is popular with tourists, RV campers and those who ride off-road vehicles," Partlow reports. "Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) and the state’s congressional delegation have argued that land use rules for the area should be established by legislation, rather than executive order, to avoid regular changes to the boundaries by future presidents."

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