State, local leaders react to potential changes to national monuments

Jan 25, 2021, 8:14 AM | Updated: 8:15 am
A view of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from Spencer Flat on Sunday, July 9, 2017. (P...
A view of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from Spencer Flat on Sunday, July 9, 2017. (PHOTO: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(PHOTO: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Less than a week after taking office, President Joe Biden has opened the door to again reviewing the boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. While Utah’s top politicians have banded together in opposition, local leaders in southern Utah are left wondering when the cycle of change will end.

National monuments getting new boundaries? 

Bears Ears National Monument has only been designated as a U.S. national monument for a little over four years. In that short time span, it’s already undergone one major change in terms of redrawing the boundaries. That happened in late 2017 when former President Donald Trump broke it into two separate units and slashed the overall size by about 85%. 

It was a move that was applauded by many state leaders, including then-congressman Rob Bishop, who viewed the original designation as federal government overreach.

“Executive orders by their very definition are divisive issues,” he explains. “It’s going to be controversial just by the nature of it.”


Josh Ewing with Friends of Cedar Mesa points out that Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has endured a similar history, having its size drastically reduced, nearly by half, in 2017. He says with another potential change on the horizon, this time an increase in size for both monuments, the impact on Utah is that it would, again, limit the opportunities for coal mining and oil and gas drilling on nearby land.

“But given current oil prices and uranium prices, it’s not like there have been drill rigs out there in the past few years,” he explains.

Whether for or against the monuments, Ewing argues these drastic swings every four years are good for no one.

Many people consider the areas to be sacred land, and for the people who currently work and recreate nearby, it’s not fair, in his opinion, to let partisan politics dictate their lives.

“This landscape is far too important to be used as a political tool that gets tossed back and forth every election,” says Ewing.

Today’s Top Stories


Herbert Cox statement Reyes election lawsuit...
Mark Jones

State of Utah files lawsuit against pharmaceutical retailers

Three pharmaceutical retailers are facing a lawsuit from the State of Utah. The lawsuit was filed the week of July 1.
20 hours ago
This June 20, 2017, photo provided by Chris Wonderly shows Hovenweep Castle at Hovenweep National M...
Curt Gresseth

Supreme Court widens state power over tribes. What does it mean for Utah?

The director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs discusses the recent US Supreme Court ruling and what it means for tribes in Utah.
2 days ago
Ketanji Brown Jackson takes the oath for the Supreme Court....
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Jackson sworn in, becomes 1st Black woman on Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, will be sworn as the court's 116th justice Thursday, just as the man she is replacing, Justice Stephen Breyer, retires.
2 days ago
Immigration activists rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 26. Photo credi...
Tierney Sneed and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

Supreme Court says Biden can end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy.
2 days ago
The Supreme Court is pictured. The court just limited the EPA...
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions

The Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation's main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
2 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, ...

Biden says transatlantic alliance has adapted to new threats

Biden's comments came at a press conference in Madrid at the conclusion of the annual meeting of NATO leaders and after he attended a summit with the Group of Seven advanced democratic economies in the Bavarian Alps.
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.
State, local leaders react to potential changes to national monuments