During the administration of former President Donald Trump, three national monuments in the United States had their overall sizes diminished. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument in New England all had their sizes reduced, a move which according to a statement from the Department of the Interior at the time would designate “the smallest area compatible with the care and management of the important objects of historic or scientific interest,” though Trump also pushed to allow land development in the reduced areas.
Today, the White House released a memo stating that President Joe Biden intends to restore the previous protections these monuments held. “The President’s protection of these three national monuments is among a series of steps the Administration has taken to restore protections to some of America’s most cherished lands and waters, many of which are sacred to Tribal Nations,” the memo reads. It also explained that the primary reasons for these restorations is to combat climate change, promote public and wildlife health, and improve the economy.
“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,” the statement said of Bears Ears National Monument. “With this action, the total protected area of Bears Ears National Monument is 1.36 million acres.”
During his term, President Trump shrank Bears Ears National Monument by 85% — as part of the biggest reversal of land monument protections in U.S. history.
Now President Biden is reversing it, restoring the boundaries of several monuments.https://t.co/fLnoZc4GBW
— NPR (@NPR) October 8, 2021
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is home to “world-class geological objects of historic or scientific interest,” according to the memo, and as such will be restored to the 1.87 million acres of protected land it had back in 2017.
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument will be fully protected against commercial fishing as outlined by guidelines originally set during the Obama administration. “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,” the memo explains.