WASHINGTON D.C. (ABC4 News) – In his first few hours of being in office President Biden signed executive orders undoing some of the previous administration’s policies. One of those was an executive order to review the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments.
Utah’s congressional delegation Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), Representatives Chris Stewart (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT), Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Blake Moore (R-UT), as well as state officials Governor Spencer Cox, Attorney General Sean Reyes, Senate President Stuart Adams, and Speaker of the House Brad Wilson have put out a statement opposing the order.
“For over 25 years, Utah has been the center of controversial and divisive unilateral national monument decisions. Roughly two-thirds of our backyard belongs to the federal government, which has meant land management actions have often been done to us rather than with us. A review in name only with predetermined results, which ultimately leads to a unilateral executive order enlarging the monuments’ boundaries, will not solve the root of the problem and will only deepen divisions in this country.
We share a sincere desire to find a collaborative, broadly supported solution to the political football of national monuments in Utah, specifically Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. It is imperative that President Biden bring the State of Utah to the table and work with state and local elected leaders toward a consensus product, including a permanent solution approved by Congress.
President Biden championed a message of unity during his campaign, and we stand ready to work across party lines towards a permanent solution.”
Two years ago, President Trump downsized the two monuments, and then last year implemented a new management plan.
Conversation groups called the downsizing at the time the largest elimination of protected land in U.S. history. It was contested that the previous administration had misused the antiquities act.
President Trump had said he changed it because the Democratic administrations misused the act.
A federal judge rejected the administrations bid to dismiss the lawsuits.
Native American tribal groups also opposed the downsizing calling the areas “a living and vital place where ancestors passed from one world to the next, often leaving their mark in petroglyphs or painted handprints, and where modern-day tribal members can still visit them.”
There has been so much controversy over the area the Bureau of Land Management created a “Myth vs. Fact” page.