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Letter: Biden should restore monuments on Earth Day

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, center, talks with Clark Tenakhongva, vice chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council during a press conference at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding after a tour of Bears Ears National Monument on Thursday. At left is San Juan County Commissioner Kenneth Maryboy. Haaland met with San Juan County commissioners and elected federal, state and local leaders and leaders with Native American tribes to discuss the current boundaries and management conditions of the two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, April 8, 2021.

Deb Haaland has everything she needs to unequivocally recommend to President Joe Biden that he restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. She heard from native people about their deep ties to these traditional homelands. She heard from paleontologists and archaeologists about the incredible science to be done here—and the need for full protection to safeguard access and funding. She heard from business owners how monument designation supercharges local economies.

She heard from ecologists how these big preserves act as refuges for threatened species and create connections across vast swaths of the West, increasing the odds of survival for our fellow creatures. She heard from climate scientists how full protection creates resilience as aridity accelerates. And she heard from land managers about the crucial need for funding to deal with exploding numbers of visitors who haven’t been taught how best to respect the land and cultures here.

The weak counterarguments from Utah’s anti-public lands politicians haven’t changed in decades. And yet, nearly everyone cherishes the red rock canyons and wants these restorative wildlands to be there for our grandchildren.

The best possible way to honor our shared love of these expansive, interdependent, and unbroken landscapes is for President Biden to act now — not to wait for legislation. Biden should proclaim full protection for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase on Earth Day — a fabulously symbolic gesture on behalf of future generations and our yearning for a thriving planet.

Stephen Trimble, Torrey

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