In first act as President, Biden orders a review of Bears Ears National Monument
In one of his first acts as President of the United States, Joe Biden has issued an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to review the boundaries and conditions of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Bears Ears, in San Juan County, was designated by President Barack Obama in 2016. The boundaries of the monument, initially 1.35 million acres, were cut by 85 percent in 2017 by President Donald Trump.
While Biden was expected to issue a flurry of executive orders in his first day in office, it was not widely anticipated that the the Bears Ears issue would be addressed in the initial actions.
The Utah delegation in Congress and State of Utah officials state that they oppose the executive order.
The congressional delegation of U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), Representatives Chris Stewart (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT), Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Blake Moore (R-UT), as well as state officials including Governor Spencer Cox, Attorney General Sean Reyes, Senate President Stuart Adams, and Speaker of the House Brad Wilson, issued the following statement.
“For over 25 years Utah has been the center of controversial and divisive unilateral national monument decisions. Roughly two-thirds of our backyard belongs to the federal government, which has meant land management actions have often been done to us rather than with us.
"A review in name only with predetermined results, which ultimately leads to a unilateral executive order enlarging the monuments’ boundaries, will not solve the root of the problem and will only deepen divisions in this country.
"We share a sincere desire to find a collaborative, broadly supported solution to the political football of national monuments in Utah, specifically Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments.
"It is imperative that President Biden bring the State of Utah to the table and work with state and local elected leaders toward a consensus product, including a permanent solution approved by Congress.
"President Biden championed a message of unity during his campaign, and we stand ready to work across party lines towards a permanent solution.”