WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Maria Cantwell applauded President Biden’s decision to restore full protections to Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments that were stripped away by the Trump Administration. Following a 2017 Trump Executive Order, the Administration removed conservation designations on over 2 million acres of public lands in Southern Utah, by far the biggest assault on National Monuments in U.S. history. Biden will also restore crucial ecosystem protections in almost 5,000 square miles in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.
“Some of America’s most iconic landscapes are safe again,” said Senator Cantwell. “I commend President Biden for rescuing Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante from the threat of mining and fossil fuel development. Reversing the Trump Administration’s illegal and wildly unpopular assault on public lands is a well-deserved victory for the local Tribes, gateway communities, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts who have fought so hard to preserve these irreplaceable areas for future generations.”
Both Monuments are significant cultural sites for numerous Tribes, conservationists, and archaeologists, and are strongly supported by the $788 billion outdoor recreation industry. Bears Ears National Monument contains thousands of archeological and Native American sacred sites and is the first monument designated at the request of Tribal Nations. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument protects a scientific treasure trove of fossils and rare species.
In 2017, Cantwell called on Trump to protect public lands and uphold existing protections for the United States’ 157 national monuments and led a group of Democratic Senators in sending a letter condemning President Trump’s plans to review National Monument protections nationwide, which led to the stripping of protections for the public lands in Utah. She also confronted former Interior Secretary Zinke during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing for considering weakening National Monument protections. In 2018, Cantwell joined over 100 colleagues in the House and Senate in submitting an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs in five cases before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that challenge the Trump Administration’s decision to significantly diminish the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in southern Utah.