President Biden is set to restore two national monuments in Utah and a separate marine conservation area in New England on Friday after former President Trump stripped all three environmental protections under his administration.
Biden is expected to sign three declarations restoring protection for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyon and Seamounts National Monuments. By doing so, Biden is “fulfilling an important promise and upholding the longstanding principle that America’s national parks, monuments and other protected areas are to be protected forever and for all people.”
The restoration of Bears Ears National Monument rolls back the limits set by former President Obama in 2016 and retains protection for an additional 11,200 acres added by Trump in 2017. This action will ensure that Bears Ears National Monument’s total protected area covers 1.36. lakh acres.
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Utah Governor 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 curtailed in 2017.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante was first consecrated in 1996. Biden’s move restored the protected area to 1.87 million acres.
Monuments cover vast expanses of southern Utah where red rocks evoke distinctive buttes from petroglyphs and cliff dwellings and grassy canyons. Trump invoked the Antiquities Act to cut 2 million acres (800,000 ha) from the two monuments, calling the ban 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 by 85% to more than 200,000 acres (80,900 ha) on land considered sacred to Native American tribes. He nearly cut the Grand Staircase-Escalante in half, leaving it about 1 million acres (405,000 ha). Both monuments were erected by Democratic presidents.
The Trump administration’s cuts to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante paved the way for potential coal mining and oil and gas drilling on lands that were previously off limits.
And in New England, the Northeast Valley and 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 changed a rule under his administration to allow commercial fishing on the maritime monument. The monument is made up of 4,913 square horizontal miles.
The restoration of security for the monuments is in line with the recommendations of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
The White House said the protection of Biden’s memorials is one of a series of steps the Biden administration has taken to restore the security of some of America’s “most cherished lands and waters, many of which are sacred to tribal nations”. .