(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden will restore the original boundaries of monuments that had their size drastically reduced by former President Donald Trump, with the White House saying he “is fulfilling a key promise and upholding the longstanding principle that America’s national parks, monuments, and other protected areas are to be protected for all time and for all people.”
Biden will restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah to their original boundaries and will restore protections to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine monument in Rhode Island. The monuments were created by former President Barack Obama using the Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to create national monuments. Trump was the first president to use that law to reduce protections for a monument.
Trump drastically reduced the size of the two Utah monuments in 2017, calling it an overreach of power to put so much land and resources under the control of the federal government. Native American tribes, conservation groups and scientists opposed the decision, saying the area needed protections to preserve the historic sites and sensitive ecosystems.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox confirmed reports about Biden’s move in a statement on Thursday, saying he’s disappointed about the decision.
Conservation groups applauded Biden’s decision to restore the original boundaries of the monuments, saying it will preserve the important natural, historical and cultural resources in the area and shows respect to Native American tribes who first called for the creation of Bears Ears National Monument.
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