• Dave Harmon, PW editor

Paleontologists to Biden: Don't just restore Utah NMons — expand them

When paleontologist Rob Gay returned to his research sites at the Bears Ears National Monument last month after a long absence, he wasn’t sure what he would find. Former President Donald Trump had shrunk the monument, created by former President Barack Obama, by 85% and weakened protections for sites holding fossils and cultural artifacts. Gay spotted new off-road vehicle tracks in the vermillion-hued soil. But thankfully, he says, his sites had not been damaged.

Gay is just one of many researchers and Native American officials urging President Joe Biden to reverse Trump’s downsizing of Bear Ears—and even expand it. Doing so would not only restore stricter protections for numerous sites, but also free up federal funding for surveys, research, and preservation efforts. But although the Biden administration has hinted that it will reverse Trump’s order—and the decision could come soon—it faces some tricky decisions that could shape the political and policy landscape for monuments for years to come.

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