President Biden signs proclamation fully restoring two southwest national monuments

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Friday, President Biden signed a proclamation fully restoring Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah.

"Over the last quarter century, this land has produced significant discoveries per acre, more than any other national monument, everything from fossils to ancient indigenous artifacts,” he said.

President Barack Obama established Bears Ears as a national monument right before he left office, on Dec. 28, 2016. Not even a year later, on Dec. 4, 2017, President Donald Trump made some changes.

"The last administration reduced the size by 85%," Biden said.

Now, Utah’s congressional delegation is firing back against the Biden administration. The delegation released a joint statement, stating the proclamation takes the state’s government and local tribes out of the equation, to where they are unable to provide help or input. They also said drawing a circle on a map and claiming ‘conservation’ does not protect the land, especially when the proclamation does not include financial resources and instead makes the land more vulnerable to looters and tourists.

Multiple tribal leaders were at Friday’s signing, including Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. In recent post on Facebook, Nez said, "the restoration of Bears Ears honors the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to tribes and reaffirms our seat at the table as the first people of this land.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland also supports the proclamation.

"It’s about this administration centering on the voices of Indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations,” Haaland said.