Utah

National Monuments: Grand Staircase-Escalante

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National Monuments: Grand Staircase-Escalante
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Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society

Mining threats loom over iconic landscape and fossil beds

Powerful mining interests have their eye on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, threatening this treasured southwestern landscape. Influenced by pro-mining politicians, the Trump administration illegally reduced the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante by roughly half in 2017. This action removed protections from numerous scientifically significant fossil beds and close to a million acres of signature landscape.

The dramatic vistas and bounty of fossils that are Grand Staircase-Escalante's calling card are in trouble. We must stop destructive mining projects and other development threats in Grand Staircase-Escalante, standing up for the land, wildlife and scientific resources that make it so special.

Why this place matters

Within a couple hours’ drive of Utah's world-famous national parks, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is somewhat underappreciated. But it may be our nation’s best place to see striking rock formations. Paleontologists consider it one of the most important sources of dinosaur fossils, too.

3,000+ fossil sites
These are scientifically important sites. Already, 400 fossil sites have lost protection due to shrunken monument boundaries.
25 dinosaur species
25 unique dinosuar species have been discovered in Grand Staircase-Escalante.
650 bee species
Grand Staircase-Escalante gives habitat to hundreds of bee species, including dozens previously unknown to scientists.
32% personal income growth
Nearby counties say income grew due to tourism after the monument was established.

The threat

Thanks to the Trump administration, parts of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are now open to potential mining, oil and gas drilling and reckless off-road vehicle use. In its plans for managing Grand Staircase-Escalante, the Trump administration also wants to leave parts of the monument open for anyone to come in and loot fossils. They admit this may lead to significant losses of specimens.

We took Trump to court for violating the Antiquities Act and are now locked in battle to prevent irreparable damage to Grand Staircase-Escalante. This includes working to stop congressional proposals that would further undermine the monument or open it to development; countering agency proposals to manage the land in a way that shuts out public input or gives undue influence to commercial interests; and monitoring the most urgent threats on the ground, such as looting of important fossil sites or destructive treatment of native plant life.

What we're doing

  1. Going to court

    We have joined paleontology organizations and other groups to file lawsuits disputing the Trump administration's unlawful cuts to Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument.

  2. Monitoring damage on the ground

    While we battle it out in court, now-unprotected lands will be opened to the real possibility of development and looting. We’re working with partners to monitor threats on the ground, including damage to fossil beds and disruption of ecosystems.

  3. Fighting in Congress

    We’re fighting against legislative attempts to codify Trump’s Grand Staircase-Escalante cuts, which would block our legal challenges to them. We’re also fighting proposals that seek to prevent future protection of places like Grand Staircase-Escalante as national monuments.

What you can do
Oppose the Trump administration's destructive plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
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