Interior Secretary sends recommendation on Utah monuments to president

Local News

From left, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and Rep. Blake Moore look on during a tour of ancient dwellings along the Butler Wash trail at the Bears Ears National Monument Thursday, April 8, 2021, near Blanding, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has made her recommendation about whether to reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to downsize two sprawling national monuments in Utah – Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

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But details on her decision have not yet been released.

A court filing Thursday in a legal battle that began more than three years ago shows the Interior Department gave the report to President Biden on Wednesday.

It doesn’t say what is in that report. Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz declined to provide any information about the report.

Haaland traveled to Utah in April as she became the latest cabinet official to step into a long-running public lands tug-of-war.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez reacted to the news, saying on Twitter, “I commend the Biden-Harris Administration and Secretary Haaland for meeting with tribal nations and listening to our concerns and words of support for the full restoration and expansion of the Bears Ears National Monument. When the Obama-Biden Administration designated the Bears Ears National Monument in 2016, it involved years of careful and thoughtful discussions with tribes and other stakeholders. Bears Ears is home to many historical and cultural sites, plants, water, traditional medicines, and teachings for the first people of this country. I wholeheartedly support the restoration of the Bears Ears National Monument and the expansion of it to 1.9 million acres.”

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