Statement: Biden honors legacy of conservation and restores protections for Utah, New England monuments

Great day for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase Escalante and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts

Press Release

-For Immediate Release-

Contacts:
Dan Xie, Political Director, Student PIRGs, 858-353-1452, [email protected]
Josh Chetwynd, Communications Manager, 303-573-5558, [email protected]

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden restored protections on Friday to three national monuments. The decision to restore the original boundaries for two Utah areas, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, and the original protections for the U.S. Atlantic’s only marine monument, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, will ensure that these sensitive ecosystems will remain intact in perpetuity. 

This decision reverses a Trump administration policy to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and cut Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument boundaries nearly in half. This left areas home to such endangered species as the Mexican spotted owl and the Southwestern willow flycatcher at even greater risk. It also safeguards more than 100,000  archaeologically significant objects, including grave sites, ceremonial grounds and ancient cliff dwellings, which were at risk from oil drilling and mining. 

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which received protection in 2016 during the Obama administration, saw its safeguards rolled back in 2020 as commercial fishing was allowed back into the monument’s boundaries. Following President Biden’s executive action, the area, which is home to dozens of species of deep sea coral and is an important habitat for whales and other marine mammals, will once again become an entanglement-free zone in the Atlantic Ocean’s U.S. boundaries. This decision will also ensure that the marine monument serves as a refuge for species vulnerable to climate change impacts and as a research area to allow for a better understanding of deep sea ocean ecosystems.

In response, Claire Blueadieu, CONNPIRG Students intern and student at Trinity College, issued the following: 

“In the last few months, students in 22 states have taken action on our campaign calling on the Biden Administration to #RollbackTheRollbacks.  With these actions, the Administration has shown us just how serious they are about their campaign promises to protect the environment. There remains a lot of work to do, but the president has set us on a course toward a greener, healthier future.”

In response, Bita Mosallai, Arizona PIRG Students Chair and student at the University of Arizona issued the following statement:

“By restoring protections to these special places, we can rest assured they will be treasured for generations to come. Both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are rich cultural heritage sites and are sacred to many Native Americans who originally lobbied for protections. These special places are home to countless animals such as eagles, owls and a world-renowned elk population. Visitors come from all over for beautiful hikes, rock climbing, river rafting and wildlife viewing. The Trump decision to slash safeguards was devastating to native groups, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. We applaud the Biden administration for reversing such a misguided policy measure and protecting these special places for my generation and generations to come.

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The Student PIRGs is a network of student run and student funded organizations that work with professional staff at colleges and universities to make sure our peers have the skills, opportunities and training they need to create a better, more sustainable future for all of us. Our chapters on over 35 campuses provide the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more. For nearly 50 years we’ve helped students to get organized, mobilized and energized so they can continue to be on the cutting edge of positive change.