Biden restores protection of Bear Ears National Monument

Ancient granaries, part of the House on Fire ruins, appear here on the South Fork of Mule Canyon at Bears Ears National Monument on May 12, 2017 outside Blanding, Utah.

Photo: George Fry (Getty Images)

The Biden administration is using its executive powers to restore environmental protections to Bears Ears National Monument, a vast sacred sight in Utah. This move comes after four years Former President Donald Trump Inventory Protection away from the bear’s ears, reducing its area by 82%.

The White House said Friday that Biden will restore the boundaries of the 1.35 million-acre memorial. Indigenous communities are Celebrating the announcement.

“Thank you, President Biden, for restoring Bears Ears National Monument to his original vision of protection by incorporating antiquities laws to deter vandalism and the abuse of our ancestors and our homeland,” Hank Stevens, a spokesperson for the Navajo Nation and co-chair of the Bears Ears Intertribal Alliance, said in a statement sent. By email.

Biden will also restore protection to two other monuments that Trump has cut protections for: the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine in Rhode Island.

Why do bears matter to tribes?

Bears Ears National Monument, a rugged stretch of red rock, juniper forests, and a high plateau, is sacred to nearby indigenous peoples such as the Navajo Nation, Zuni, Utah Diné Bikéyah, and Hopi. Tribes called the Earth home 13,000 years ago.

The rocky landscape is where some aboriginal communities first learned to grow corn and carve arrowheads. Many still frequent the area to find ceremonial herbs and sand to use in art.

But the landscape was not always protected. The Aboriginal-led organization, notably by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Alliance and the Utah Diné Bikéyah Aboriginal-led non-profit, which It won the Bears Ears National Monumental Designation in the first place. The groups lobbied the Obama administration to add protections to public lands, which Obama did in December 2016.

The classification was a small positive development in a long history of colonial violence towards indigenous people – a development that was The Trump administration has backed down harshly. The original organizers said that by bringing back the protections, Biden is showing his understanding of and honoring the ancient and cultural connections to the land.

Why is Else Bears National Monument important

Bringing back protections for Bears Ears isn’t just important to tribal communities. Paleontologists have long noticed that the Earth is littered with fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years.

Last year, the Utah Geological Society released a Historical study The area turned out to contain a geological record of many important events in the development of life on our planet, including from the Middle Pennsylvania, the Cretaceous, the Ice Age, and the Holocene deposits. Scientists have found wonders like decompose phytosaurus, an early ancestor of the crocodile that resided in the Utah region more than 220 million years ago, and was generally amazed at the The area is rich in fossils. these The researchers were really upset About reducing the monument and opening the land for extraction.

It was common people too overwhelmingly supportive From the monument, analysis after analysis shows that Entertainment is a much bigger economic boost of extractive industries.

What’s next for the memorial and beyond

Republicans are less thrilled than the restored protection of bear ears.

“Instead of seizing the opportunity to build unity in a divided region and bring in resources and permanent protection for sacred relics by seeking a lasting and mutually beneficial legislative solution, President Biden fanned the flames of controversy and ignored input from the communities closest to these relics,” reads A. statment It was signed by two Utah senators and three Representatives, all Republicans.

This could lead to more fights, including potential lawsuits from farm owners and mining groups. But the original organizers are hoping to see more moves like this from the Biden administration, saying they are looking for him to continue working with tribes to care for the land, and now calling for a comprehensive land management plan that can be developed for the largest. Bears ears landscape.

“For us, the memorial has never gone away. We will always return to these lands to administer and nurture our sacred sites, water, and medicine,” said Chairman of the Business Committee of the Indian Ute Tribe and the Bears Ears Intertribal Alliance in a statement emailed to Shaun Chabus. “The memorial represents a historic opportunity for the federal government to learn and incorporate tribal land management practices that we have developed over the centuries and are in demand now more than ever.”

Home Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous person to hold the position, was instrumental in persuading the administration to restore protection. Aboriginal groups had hoped for it Haaland will introduce a new track Forward, it could return the land and promote a different set of values ​​for public resources. This may be a start towards those goals.

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