Sunday, October 10, 2021

Three National Monument Declarations Restored

News broke last week that President Biden restored three national monument declarations. First, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments were restored to their original size and second, the environmental protections for Northeast Canyons and Seamount Marine National Monument were restored. You can read about the protections here on this article here from The Guardian. 

Bears Ears National Monument.
Click for image credit.
The protection of the first set of national monuments was a big win for environmental activists and Indigenous peoples in the region. These monuments hold significant meaning in Native American spirituality. In addition, the monuments hold important historic and prehistoric sites that deserve protection.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamount Marine National Monument issue is a fascinating one. First of all, it was controversial in that it was the first national monument in The Atlantic in prime fishing areas. The formation of the monument by President Obama forced a reduction of fishing and crab and lobster production in the protected areas. Of course, various fisheries groups sued in district court in Washington D.C. and claimed that President Obama did not have the authority to create a national monument in open water. The fisheries groups lost the lawsuits in local courts and the local ruling was validated upon appeal. The Supreme Court decided not to take the case which meant that President Obama, and future presidents, retain the right to declare national monuments in offshore waters.

When President Trump took office, he retained the size of the national monument but changed the rules so that commercial fishing would be allowed in the area. The main reason that the monument was created was to protect a range of species within the unique ecosystems present in the seamounts and canyons of the offshore area. President Biden restored the fishing rules enacted by President Obama.

As my long-time readers know, I am in the midst of a series on public images of all of the national monuments. I have not gotten to Northeast Canyons and Seamount National Monument yet, but you can see my posts on the other two monuments below.

Bears Ears National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

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