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Biden to Reinstate Protections for National Monuments

Credit: Unsplash

During the previous administration under President Donald Trump, the sizes of three national monuments in the United States were reduced. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument in New England all faced reductions. The rationale provided by the Department of the Interior at the time suggested that the resizing aimed to establish “the smallest area compatible with the care and management of the important objects of historic or scientific interest”, albeit Trump’s agenda also included permitting land development in these reduced areas.

Recently, the White House issued a memo outlining President Joe Biden’s intention to restore the previous protections afforded to these monuments. The memo highlighted that this move is part of a broader effort by the administration to safeguard some of the nation’s most treasured lands and waters, many of which hold significance for Tribal Nations. It emphasized that the objective of reinstating these protections is to address climate change, enhance public and wildlife health, and stimulate economic growth.

Regarding Bears Ears National Monument, the statement underlined, “Restoring the Monument’s boundaries and conditions restores its integrity, upholds efforts to honor the federal trust responsibility to Tribal Nations, and conserves these lands and waters for future generations.” This action has expanded the total protected area of Bears Ears National Monument to 1.36 million acres.

The memo also highlighted that the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument boasts “world-class geological objects of historic or scientific interest” and will be reinstated to its original protected land size of 1.87 million acres as designated in 2017.

As for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, it will be safeguarded against commercial fishing in alignment with regulations initially established during the Obama administration. The memo elaborated, “The Monument is composed of two units, the Canyons Unit and the Seamounts Unit, each of which showcases unique geological features that anchor vulnerable ecological communities threatened by varied uses, climate change, and related impacts.”

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