Utah lawmakers react to new monument named by President Biden

Aug 8, 2023, 8:00 PM

Image of President Joe Biden, signing a proclamation to create a new national monument on land that...

President Joe Biden establishes the Baaj Nwaavjo I'Tah Kukveni Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument on August 8, 2023. (The White House)

(The White House)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s governor and senators came out forcefully against a new monument designation announced by President Biden ahead of his trip to Utah this week.

Using the Executive Authority granted by the Antiquities Act, the President designated the Baaj Nwaavjo I’Tah Kukveni National Monument, nearly one million acres that surround the Grand Canyon. 

All of the acreage is within Arizona.

Biden monument = “Burdensome restrictions”

The monument designation is a move that “will detrimentally impact” Utah miners and ranchers, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said in a statement.


“Although the monument would be entirely in Arizona,” Romney’s statement read, “it will be detrimental to ranchers in southern Utah. Ranchers in Washington and Kane Counties, who graze their cattle on the public lands on the Arizona Strip, will be faced with burdensome restrictions or be prevented from using the land altogether.”

And the designation holds another dire consequence, said Romney, by limiting uranium mining.

“The Arizona Strip is one of the most productive uranium mining districts in the country. By eliminating this important source of uranium, President Biden has increased both our dependence on Russia and China and our ultimate carbon footprint, while decreasing our energy efficiency.”

“Poorly thought-out strategy,” and “blatant misuse of the Antiquities Act”

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, referred to the area in question as one of the “few domestic sources of uranium” in America. He, too,  said the designation will further America’s energy dependence on other countries.

And Lee said that local officials are being overlooked by what he referred to as a “top-down management” style by Democratic U.S. presidents.

“This approach not only overlooks the value of local input but also disrupts the delicate balance between conservation and practical realities,” Lee said on social media. It’s time for President Biden to reflect, revisit his tactics, and release the chokehold currently suffocating local livelihoods.”



For Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, the announcement was “frustrating.” He cited the cost of a large monument to the small cities and towns that surround them.

“These designations increase visitation without providing any additional resources for law enforcement and infrastructure to protect sensitive areas,” the Governor said in a tweet.

Gov. Cox also believes that restricting mining hampers American industries.

” … restrict(ing) access to the critical minerals that are key to cell phones, satellites, U.S. defense systems, and so many other American industries.”


Utah, monuments, and U.S. Presidents

Utah’s congressional delegation and other political leaders have been at odds with the Biden administration, and previously the Obama administration, over national monuments within Utah boundaries.

President Obama established the Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County, in 2016. But in 2017, after a request by Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah lawmakers, President Trump reduced Bears Ears by 85%.

At the same time, President Trump reduced the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Kane County by nearly 50%.  

In October of 2021, President Biden restored the original size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments.


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Utah lawmakers react to new monument named by President Biden