Bite to Restore Bears Ears and Grand Trap Escalante Monuments | Joe Biden

Joe Biden will expand two extensive national monuments in Utah that were significantly reduced under Donald Trump, the state governor said Thursday.

This move marks a victory for environmentalists and indigenous leaders who had fought for years to restore protection to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments.

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante cover vast expanses of southern Utah, where red rocks reveal rock carvings and rock dwellings and distinctive twin shoots bulge from a grassy valley. The Trump administration had cut Bears Ears on lands considered sacred to indigenous peoples by 85% and cut Grand Staircase-Escalante down by almost half.

Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, praised Biden in a statement, saying the move to restore monument protection showed his administration was committed to “preserving our public lands and respecting indigenous peoples” votes “.

“It’s time to put Trump’s cynical actions in hindsight,” he said.

However, Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox expressed disappointment at the administration’s decision on the monuments, which has been at the center of a lengthy tug of war between public states between presidential administrations. The governor noted that he had offered to work with the administration on a legislative solution.

“The president’s decision to expand the monuments again is a tragically missed opportunity – it does not provide security as well as funding for law enforcement, research and other protections that the monuments need and that only congressional actions can offer,” Cox said in the statement released with other heads of state. .

Cox’s statement did not provide details on how much of the monuments will be restored, and the White House and the U.S. Department of the Interior declined immediate comment. An official announcement from Joe Biden is expected soon.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney also criticized Biden by saying in a tweet that he had “wasted the opportunity to build consensus” and find a permanent solution for the monuments.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, walks near old homes during a visit to the Bears Ears.
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, walks near old homes during a visit to the Bears Ears. Photo: Rick Bowmer / AP

“Once again, Utah’s national monuments are being used as a political football between administrations,” Romney said Thursday.

Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation group, welcomed Biden’s decision, saying she hoped it marked a step towards his goal of conserving at least 30% of U.S. land and sea by 2030.

“Thank you, President Biden,” Rokala said in a statement. “You have listened to native tribes and the American people and ensured that these landscapes will be protected for generations to come.”

The Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, the first secretary of native cabinets, traveled to Utah in April to visit the monuments and recommended that they be returned to their original size.

Barack Obama proclaimed the Bears Ears a national monument in 2016. The site was the first to receive the designation at the specific request of indigenous nations.

The Bears Ears Butters, which overlook a grassy valley, are considered a place of worship for many tribes, according to Pat Gonzales-Rogers, executive director of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. The group includes the Hopi tribe, Navajo Nation, the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, the Pueblo from Zuni and the Ute Indian Tribe.

Trump’s cuts to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante were among the most controversial environmental decisions in his administration, paving the way for potential coal mining and oil and gas drilling in previously off-limits countries. However, the development has been limited due to market forces.

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