UTAH (ABC4) – On August 24, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes filed a lawsuit against President Biden’s placement of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, which government officials argue were “unlawfully designated.” 

A spokesperson for Governor Spencer Cox notes that the lawsuit filed against President Biden today “argues that the size of the two national monuments, covering vast landscapes of a combined 3.2 million acres, violates the Antiquities Act of 1906, which limits U.S. presidents to create monuments ‘confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.'”

The Attorney General was joined by a list of Utah’s elected leaders to advocate for the state’s grounds. Governor Spencer Cox, Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson, State Auditor John Dougall, Treasurer Marlo Oaks, and Senate President J. Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson, U.S. Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, and Congressmen Chris Stewart, John Curtis, Burgess Owens, and Blake Moore along with the Attorney General have released the following statement on the matter: 

“These public lands and sacred sites are a stewardship that none of us take lightly. The archeological, paleontological, religious, recreational, and geologic values need to be harmonized and protected. Rather than guarding those resources, President Biden’s unlawful designations place them all at greater risk.

The vast size of the expanded Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments draws unmanageable visitation levels to these lands without providing any of the tools necessary to adequately conserve and protect these resources.

A congressional solution would be the more effective path for the conservation and management of Utah lands. This would include collaboration from state and federal agencies, tribal nations, local governments, citizens, the legislature, and Utah’s congressional delegation. A congressional solution could better guard the area’s resources by ensuring tribal access to sacred sites, providing federal agencies with the management tools and funding they need, channeling visitation into appropriate protected locations, and giving local communities the funding and flexibility they need to thrive economically.

We now challenge this repeated, abusive federal overreach to ensure that our public lands are adequately protected and that smart stewardship remains with the people closest to the land.”

Today’s lawsuit argues that the size of the two national monuments, covering vast landscapes of a combined 3.2 million acres, violates the Antiquities Act of 1906, which limits U.S. presidents to create monuments “confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”