Monument protections provide model for future conservation
President Biden has restored protections to Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monuments nearly four years after Trump unlawfully contracted them.
“Thank you, President Biden and Vice President Harris for upholding your commitment to restore Honmuru (the Bears Ears monument), which is the birthplace of many Hopi and other Native peoples," said Clark W. Tenakhongva, vice chairman of the Hopi Tribe and co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, in a statement. "Through this action, the history of our people, our culture, and religion will be preserved for future generations.”
“The President's actions will fulfill a promise to restore protections illegally ripped away from national monuments while at the same time ensuring these same lands address the need to tackle the climate and extinction crisis," said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, in a statement.
Tribal leaders, scientists and local businesses led the charge to restore protections to these lands and waters. And you, our members and supporters, were right there every step of the way, helping us fight alongside them. You submitted tens of thousands of comments to elected officials; made donations to help fund our legal battles; and pressured the Biden administration to stick to its promise. THANK YOU!
Restored protection alleviates many threats, reflects conservation aims
President Biden’s proclamation will help alleviate a number of threats that face these monuments.
In Bears Ears, mining and drilling plus vandalism imperil thousands of archaeological sites and the ancestral and current homeland of numerous Tribes and Pueblos in the region. In Grand Staircase-Escalante, scientifically valuable fossil beds are at risk from vehicle traffic and looting. In Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, commercial fishing has put pressure on sensitive marine species.
But beyond that, restoring protections to the monuments is a significant step toward the goal of protecting 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by the year 2030—a first-of-its-kind national conservation target that has been adopted by President Biden. Experts say conserving an interconnected network of lands and waters will give us the best chance at curbing the worst effects of climate change; adapting to the shifts already happening; preserving wild nature amid an ongoing extinction crisis; and ensuring communities have access to clean air, water and outdoor spaces.
We hope the president will keep up this momentum by protecting other significant landscapes in the weeks, months and years ahead—especially those important to Tribes and underserved communities, such as Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada and Castner Range in Texas.