President Biden today restored the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah that were dramatically reduced under former President Trump. He also reimposed fishing restrictions at a third monument off the coast of New England.
Former President Barack Obama created Bears Ears National Monument in 2017 just before he left office but the Trump administration cut down the size of the protected area by 85%. Now with Biden's restoration and a slight increase that includes 11,200 acres that were added during the Trump-era changes, the monument will be approximately 1.3 million acres.
Native American tribes are marking today as a victory in a long-fought battle to protect Bears Ears.
Here is Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the nation's first indigenous cabinet member, commenting today at the White House.
"Bears Ears is a living landscape," Haaland said. "When I've been there, I've felt the warmth and joy of ancestors who have cared for this special place since time immemorial."
The rugged desert terrain in Southeast Utah is filled with towering red rock formations, significant Native American archeological sites, sprawling fields of sage-colored scrub brush, and of course its namesake, the Bears Ears buttes.
Here are some of photos NPR photographer Claire Harbage visited the area on her reporting trip in July 2021:
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