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Biden Ignores Local Communities, Reinstates Sweeping Monument Designations

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 7, 2021 -

Today, President Joe Biden announced he will be unilaterally expanding the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

"In a pattern that's becoming all-too-familiar, the Biden Administration is once again making a major decision with no congressional input, no prior notice, and no basis in fact. These monuments are far more than political bargaining chips; they impact the lands and livelihoods of men and women whose families have lived there for generations. I have always championed greater access to public lands and the ability for every American to enjoy our rich, diverse resources, in contrast to this administration’s false view that the only way to conserve resources is by locking them up and throwing away the key. Members of the Utah congressional delegation and other local leaders repeatedly requested to meet with President Biden to discuss a bipartisan path forward that benefits everyone, no matter their political persuasion. For this administration to ignore those requests and make a sweeping, unilateral decision from the opposite side of the country is a slap in the face to those who know and love Utah the best." House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

"I am immensely disappointed with President Biden’s decision today. When I toured Bears Ears with Secretary Haaland, my colleagues, and other leaders from our state, we were united in working together toward a legislative solution that balances state, local, and tribal interests. When Bears Ears was designated under the Obama Administration, it drove unsustainable visitation to the region with no management plan to address it. President Biden is making this decision for political reasons, not based on what is best to preserve the region’s antiquities. As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, I understand the complexities that surround land management issues. But I also know that effective leadership means having these difficult conversations and setting aside cheap political wins so that consensus can drive our decision-making. This has been lacking in Washington for too long, and I am disheartened to see President Biden fail to rise to the occasion and exclude Utahns from this critical conversation." - U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah)


In 1996, President Bill Clinton designated 1.8 million acres in Utah as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, an area roughly the size of Biden's home state of Delaware. Former President Barack Obama later also used the Antiquities Act in 2016 to designate 1.3 million acres as Bears Ears National Monument.

In December 2017, after receiving extensive input from local tribal and community leaders in Utah, President Donald Trump reduced the boundaries of Bears Ears to 201,000 acres and Grand Staircase-Escalante to 1 million acres. This returned some of the lands to the surrounding communities for multiple-use purposes, while still preserving the integrity of the monuments themselves.

Today's announcement from President Biden indicates he will reinstate the original monument boundaries, as instituted without congressional input under the Antiquities Act of 1906. This comes after the Department of the Interior ignored multiple briefing and document requests from the Committee and failed to make their report recommending these changes public. 

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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