ALL NEWS

President Biden to review Trump’s changes to national monuments

Jan 20, 2021, 3:50 PM | Updated: 5:36 pm
Biden National Monuments...
FILE - In this May 8, 2017, file photo, is Arch Canyon within Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. President Joe Biden said Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, he plans to review the Trump administration's downsizing of the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in southern Utah. Bears Ears National Monument is on lands considered sacred to Native Americans who joined environmental groups in suing when the boundaries were redrawn in 2017. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, File)
(Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Joe Biden said Wednesday he plans to review the Trump administration’s downsizing of two sprawling national monuments in the American Southwest, including one on lands considered sacred to Native Americans who joined environmental groups in suing when the boundaries were redrawn in 2017.

The new Democratic president also plans to ask the Department of the Interior to reassess a rule change that allowed commercial fishing at a marine conservation area off the New England coast. The move was heralded by fishing groups and decried by environmentalists.

The moves are part of Biden’s expansive plan to tackle climate change and reverse the Trump administration’s “harmful policies,” according to fact sheet issued by the administration on Biden’s inauguration day.

Biden vowed to also use executive orders to put a temporary moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in what had been virgin Arctic wilderness, direct federal agencies to start looking at tougher mileage standards and other emission limits again, and revoke Mr. Trump’s approval for the Keystone XL oil and gas pipeline.

The land monuments Biden will reassess are the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in southern Utah. President Bill Clinton created Grand Staircase in 1996, and President Barack Obama created Bears Ears in 2016. The cuts made by Mr. Trump paved the way for potential coal mining and oil and gas drilling on lands that used to be off limits, though activity was limited because of market dynamics.

The marine monument is called the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean and one of just five marine monuments nationwide. President Obama issued the order establishing the conservation area in 2016.

Mr. Trump acted in December 2017 to shrink the Utah monuments on the recommendations of then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who was tasked with reviewing 27 national monuments around the country.

The monument review was based on arguments from former Pres. Trump and others that a law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt allowing presidents to declare monuments had been improperly used to protect wide expanses of lands instead of places with particular historical or archaeological value.

Pres. Trump’s decision to downsize Bears Ears by 85% and shrink Grand Staircase-Escalante Nby nearly half earned him applause from Utah’s Republican leaders, who considered the monuments an example of federal government overreach.

Environmental, tribal, paleontological and outdoor recreation organizations have pending lawsuits to restore the full sizes of the monuments, arguing presidents don’t have the legal authority to undo or change monuments created by predecessors.

Pat Gonzales-Rogers, executive director of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, said the group has told the Biden transition team the monument should first restored to the size Obama created and later to a larger size tribes originally requested.

The lands are sacred to tribes in the coalition: Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe, he said. The area includes thousands of archaeological sites on red rock lands including cliff dwellings. The Bears Ears buttes that overlook a grassy valley are particularly sacred.

“The Bears Ears is a church and the place of worship for many of our tribes,” Gonzales-Rogers said. “It should be viewed with the same type of gravitas and platform that you would view the Cathedral of Notre Dame.”

Bruce Adams, who stood next to Mr. Trump cheering at the Utah Capitol in 2017 when he signed the declaration shrinking the monument, said Wednesday he thinks it’s a foregone conclusion Biden will restore Bears Ears to the size Obama created, if not make it larger. Adams is county commissioner in the area where the monument is located and said the impact on the county of having to clean up trash and rescue unprepared visitors outweighs any benefit from people spending money at local hotels and restaurants.

“I don’t think it’s fair for the federal government to come in and do a huge land grab,” Adams said. “I just wish they would attach some dollars so the county can deal with the impact.”

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts conservation area comprises about 5,000 square miles east of New England. It contains vulnerable species of marine life such as right whales and fragile deep sea corals. The monument was the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

Pres. Trump issued an executive order in June 2020 that reopened the monument to commercial fishing. He said at the time that Obama’s move to ban fishing in the area was “deeply unfair to Maine lobstermen,” although lobster fishermen from the state don’t fish in the area.

Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said Wednesday that fishermen opposed Obama’s creation of the monument because of the lack of feedback from the industry.

“It was closed without fishery input, and then it was open, and I suppose it’s going to be closed again without fishery input,” Porter said.

____

Whittle reported from Portland, Maine.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Attorney Sam Meziani from the law firm of Goebel Anderson speaks as he joins with the family of Zan...
Mark Jackson

Family of Zane James speaks out after settlement reached with Cottonwood Heights

The family of Zane James, who died after a police altercation in 2018, reached a settlement with the city of Cottonwood Heights over the death.
8 hours ago
The community built a small memorial in front of Macie Hill's family home. Hill passed away after a...
Amie Schaeffer

GoFundMe started to remember 8-year-old girl who died in Kaysville parade

The Kaysville City Fourth of July parade turned tragic when Macie Hill was hit by a vehicle. She reportedly died from her injuries.
1 day ago
Highland Drive Closed...
Heather Kelly

Highland Drive open after closing for hours due to fatal crash involving Coke truck

A crash left Highland Drive closed between 4500 and 4600 South on Tuesday morning. The crash left a 74-year-old woman dead.
1 day ago
A brush fire started in Saratoga Springs last night. Photo Credit: Saratoga Springs Fire Department...
Devin Oldroyd

Fire officials say aerial firework caused brush fire in Saratoga Springs

An aerial firework caused a brush fire in Saratoga Springs Sunday night.
2 days ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the Ports America Chesapeake 4th of J...
BOBBY CAINA CALVAN ASSOCIATED PRESS

A turbulent US this July 4, but many see cause to celebrate

July 4 has arrived as many citizens struggle to find a reason to celebrate. Yet many also see cause for celebration, including President Joe Biden.
2 days ago
The Deuel Creek Fire started on the hillside above Centerville late Sunday night....
Devin Oldroyd

Deuel Creek Fire starts in Centerville overnight, evacuation order lifted

The Deuel Creek Fire began late Sunday night in Centerville.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
President Biden to review Trump’s changes to national monuments