BIDEN’S INTERIOR SECRETARY WANTS TO RESTORE MONUMENTS SHRUNK BY TRUMP ~ NYT

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Deb Haaland has advised the president to reinstate former boundaries at Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, and also in a marine area off New England.

Deb Haaland, the interior secretary, on a visit to Bears Ears National Monument in April.
Deb Haaland, the interior secretary, on a visit to Bears Ears National Monument in April.Credit…Pool photo by Rick Bowmer

By Coral Davenport

June 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has advised President Biden to restore sweeping environmental protections to three major national monuments that had been stripped away by former President Donald J. Trump.

In a report sent to the White House earlier this month that has not been made public, Ms. Haaland recommended that Mr. Biden reinstate the original boundaries, which included millions of acres at Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante, two rugged and pristine expanses in Utah defined by red rock canyons, rich wildlife and archaeological treasures.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Spencer J. Cox of Utah confirmed Monday that Ms. Haaland had made the recommendations.

Mr. Trump had sharply reduced the size of both national monuments at the urging of ranchers and many Republican leaders, opening them to mining, drilling and development. At the time, it was the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.

Mr. Trump’s 2017 decision to slash Bears Ears by nearly 85 percent alarmed paleontologists, environmentalists and Native American groups, and several filed a legal challenge that is pending in federal court. Bears Ears is rich in fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years and is an important cultural landmark for tribal nations.

Ms. Haaland has also recommended that Mr. Biden revive protections covering the Atlantic Ocean’s first marine monument, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, an expanse of sea canyons and underwater mountains off the New England coast, as reported by The Washington Post. Mr. Trump opened the monument, home to the endangered North Atlantic right whale, to commercial fishing last year.

Bears Ears and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts had both been established by President Barack Obama in 2016. Grand Staircase-Escalante was created by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Bears Ears, named for a pair of towering buttes, is the site of ancient Native cliff dwellings and burial grounds.
…Bears
Ears, named for a pair of towering buttes, is the site of ancient Native cliff dwellings and burial grounds.Credit…Bob Strong/Reuters

Neither the White House nor the Interior Department would comment.

The recommendation by Ms. Haaland to reinstate the protections was widely expected. On his first day in office, President Biden ordered a review of the elimination of protections for the monuments to “determine whether restoration of the monument boundaries and conditions would be appropriate.”

The recommendation by Ms. Haaland to reinstate the protections was widely expected. On his first day in office, President Biden ordered a review of the elimination of protections for the monuments to “determine whether restoration of the monument boundaries and conditions would be appropriate.”

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