Reports that Sec. Haaland’s suggestion is to restore Bears Ears

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is recommending that President Joe Biden restore Bears Ears National Monument to its original size, according to a June 14 report in the Washington Post.

The original boundaries of the monument totaled 1.35 million acres – all in San Juan County – when it was designated in December 2016 by President Barack Obama.

One year later, President Donald Trump decreased the size of the monument by 85 percent and created two separate units of the monument, namely the Shash Ja and the Indian Creek units.

Trump’s actions triggered a number of lawsuits by tribal and environmental groups that have slowly been making their way through the federal courts in the subsequent four and one half years.

A number of tribal and environmental groups have urged President Biden to not just restore Bears Ears to the original 1.35-million acres, but to expand the designation to the 1.9-million-acre national monument that they originally proposed.

Haaland states that she has provided a confidential recommendation about the monument to President Biden but has not made the details public.

The Washington Post quoted two unnamed officials in their report, which states that Secretary Haaland made a similar recommendation for restortation of the Grand Staircase National Monument in south-central Utah.

President Biden will make the final decision on the issue.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox said he was “disappointed” by Haaland’s reported recommendation.

“There’s a better way,” said Cox, “and I look forward to talking with the president about how to find a lasting solution that’s better for the land and everyone involved.”

The Utah congressional delegation has asked to meet with Biden before he makes a decision and to release the Haaland report to the public.

The first Native American Secretary of the Interior, Haaland visited San Juan County in April.  She met with a number of local officials, state officials including Governor Cox, and members of the Utah Congressional delegation.

Haaland also met with tribal leaders, monument advocates, and representatives of several entities who are impacted by the monument.

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