Biden restores three national monuments cut out by Trump

Washington (AP) — President Joe Biden visits two vast national monuments in Utah, the center of a long-standing public land conflict, and another marine protected area in New England, which has recently been used for commercial fishing. Restore. Environmental protection for all three monuments has been stripped by former President Donald Trump.

The White House announced changes on Thursday night prior to the ceremony scheduled for Friday.

Republican Governor of Utah Spencercox has expressed disappointment with Biden’s decision to restore the Bears Years and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments, which were significantly reduced by the Trump administration in 2017.

The monument covers the vast expanse of southern Utah, with red rocks revealing petroglyphs and cliff dwellings, and unique buttes swelling from grassy valleys. Trump enforced a 100-year-old ancient law to reduce 2 million acres (800,000 hectares) from two monuments, “a large land that should never cause restrictions on mining and other energy production. I called it “acquisition”.

His actions have reduced Bears Year by 85% and slightly exceeded 200,000 acres (80,900 hectares) in what is considered sacred to Native American tribes. They cut the Grand Staircase-Escalante by almost half, leaving it at about 1 million acres (405,000 hectares). Both monuments were created by the Democratic President.

The White House said in a statement that Biden “fulfilled an important promise” to restore the monument to full size, “American national parks, monuments and other protected areas should be protected for everyone at all times. We support the long-standing principle of being. ” Man. “

According to the White House, his actions include a move to suspend oil leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Sanctuary and prevent road construction in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. It was one of a series of steps taken to protect the. The largest federal forest in the country.

Biden’s plan also restores protection for the Northeastern Canyons and Seamounts National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Cape Cod. Trump has changed the rules to allow commercial fishing at marine monuments. This was foretold by the fishing group, but was ridiculed by environmentalists who urged Biden and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to restore protection to the fishing industry.

Protecting the marine monument protects “this precious area for vulnerable species that call it home,” and demonstrates the government’s commitment to science, Genfeld, director of marine campaigns at the Conservation Law Foundation. Says.

Democrat Raul Grijalba and the chairman of the House of Representatives Natural Resources Commission also praised the Biden administration in a statement, saying that the restoration of the monument would “protect our public land and respect the voices of the indigenous people.” He said it shows that he is devoting himself.

“It’s time to put Trump’s cynical behavior in the rear-view mirror,” Grijalva said.

However, the Governor of Utah called Biden’s decision “missing a tragic opportunity.” In a statement released by Cox with other state leaders, the president’s actions were “not just funding for law enforcement, research, and other protection that monuments need and can only provide parliamentary action. We can’t provide certainty either. “

Utah Senator Mitt Romney also criticized Biden, saying in a tweet that the president “stolen the opportunity to build consensus” and found a permanent solution to the monument.

“Once again, the Utah National Monument is used as political football between administrations,” Romney said Thursday. “The decision to re-expand the border between Bears Years and Grand Staircase-Escalante has devastated state, provincial, tribal leaders, and delegations … Today’s” winner robs everything That spirit kept us further away from that goal. “”

Jennifer Locala, secretary-general of the Conservation Society’s Western Priority Center, also praised Biden’s decision and was the first to reach his goal of protecting at least 30% of US land and sea by 2030. He said he hoped to be a step forward.

“Thank you, President Biden,” Lokara said in a statement. “You listened to the stories of indigenous peoples and Americans and ensured that these landscapes would be protected for generations to come.”

Ironically, Trump’s cuts have raised public attention to Bears Years, according to Lokara. She called on the federal government to manage the landscape and increase funding to handle the growing crowd.

The first indigenous Chief Cabinet Secretary, Harland, visited Utah in April to visit the monument and became the latest federal official to embark on a long-standing battle on public land. She submitted her recommendation for the monument in June.

In a statement Thursday, Haaland said during his trip to Utah, “I am very honored to talk to many who care deeply about the land.”

“The historic connection between indigenous peoples and Bears Year is undeniable. Harland, a member of Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico, said:

Former President Barack Obama declared Bears Years a national monument in 2016, 20 years after former President Bill Clinton moved to protect the Grand Staircase Escalante. Bears Ears was the first site to be designated by a tribal specific request.

The Bears Years Intertribal Union, which promoted the restoration, states that the monumental twin buttes are considered a place of worship for many tribes. This group includes the Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountains, Ute, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indians.

“President Biden has done the right thing to restore Bears Ears National Monument,” Sean Chapus, a coalition member and chairman of the Ute Indian Tribal Business Commission, said in a statement. These lands are for managing and caring for our sanctuaries, water and medicine. “

The Trump administration’s reductions to Bears Years and Grand Staircase-Escalante paved the way for potential coal mining and oil and gas drilling on previously off-limits lands. However, activity was limited due to the power of the market.

Conservative state leaders praised the reduction, given the size of both monuments that the US government has gone too far.

Environment, tribes, paleontology, and outdoor recreational organizations have called for restoration of the original boundaries, claiming that the president lacks the legal authority to modify the monuments created by his predecessors. Republicans, meanwhile, claim that the Democratic president has abused ancient law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt to specify a monument that goes beyond what is needed to protect archaeological and cultural resources. bottom.

The Biden administration said the decision to review the monuments was part of an extensive plan to tackle climate change and overturn the Trump administration’s “harmful” policies.

The fishing group opposed both Obama’s creation of a sea monument and the process he used to create it.

Patrice McCarron, Managing Director of the Lobsterman Society of Maine, said:


Whitehurst reported from Salt Lake City. The Associated Press writer Patric K Hittle in Portland, Maine contributed to this report.