Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has recommended in a confidential report that President Biden restore full protections to three national monuments diminished by President Donald Trump, including Utah’s Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and a huge marine reserve off New England. The move, described by two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was not yet public, would preserve about 5 million acres of federal land and water.
A broad coalition of conservationists, scientists and tribal activists has urged Biden to expand the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, which were established by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, respectively, to their original boundaries. Trump cut Bears Ears by nearly 85 percent, and Grand Staircase-Escalante almost in half, in December 2017. A year ago, he permitted commercial fishing on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which removed most of the monument’s protections.