President Biden is set to restore two national monuments in Utah and a separate protected area in New England on Friday after former President Trump stripped all three environmental protections under his administration.
Biden is expected to sign three proclamations restoring the protection of the Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monuments. In this way, Biden fulfills a key promise and maintains the long-standing principle that America’s national parks, monuments and other protected areas must be protected forever and for all people.
The restoration of the Bears Ears National Monument brings back the boundaries set by former President Obama in 2016 and preserves the protection of an additional 11,200 acres added by Trump in 2017. This action will ensure that the entire protected area of the Bears Ears National Monument covers 1 , 36 million hectares.
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Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, was disappointed with Biden’s decision to restore the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments, which the Trump administration significantly reduced in 2017.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante was first protected in 1996. The relocation of the bidet restores the protected area to 1.87 million acres.
The monuments cover vast expanses of southern Utah, where red rocks reveal rock carvings and rock dwellings and distinctive butter bucks from a grassy valley. Trump invoked the Antiquities Act to cut 2 million acres (800,000 acres) from the two monuments and call restrictions on mining and other energy production a “massive land grab” that “should never have happened.”
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His actions reduced the Bears Ears on lands considered sacred to Native American tribes by 85% to just over 200,000 acres (80,900 acres). They cut the Grand Staircase-Escalante by almost half, leaving it on about 1 million acres (405,000 acres). Both monuments were erected by democratic presidents.
The Trump administration’s reductions to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante paved the way for potential coal mining and oil and gas drilling in countries that were previously off-limits.
And in New England, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Cape Cod, will return to its original protection under Obama in 2016. Under Biden’s order, recreational fishing can “continue.” Trump had made a rule change during his administration to allow commercial fishing at the Maritime Monument. The monument consists of 4,913 square meters of horizontal miles.
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The restoration of the protections to the monuments is in line with the recommendations of Interior Minister Deb Haaland.
The White House said Biden’s protection of monuments is just one of a series of steps the Biden administration has taken to restore the protection of some of America’s “most valued lands and waters, many of which are sacred to tribal nations.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.