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Interior Secretary Takes Listening Trip To Bears Ears National Monument

BLANDING, Utah – U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland hiked a trail at the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah as the Biden administration weighed whether to reverse a decision from former President Donald Trump that shrank the size of the monument.

Haaland met with state and local leaders as well as tribal leaders during her visit Thursday.

President Joe Biden asked for a review of the monument boundaries after President Trump slashed its acreage.

Bears Ears did to Haaland what it does to most visitors.

“I looked at pictographs, vistas that take your breath away,” the secretary said.

The president wanted her to visit the park to gather opinions from all stakeholders on just how big the park should be.

“My job, as I mentioned in my remarks, is to be here to listen, to learn, to report back to the president on every single voice I have heard on this trip, to make sure he has all the information that he needs to make a decision,” she said.

Bears Ears has sparked conversation for years, even more so when President Barack Obama declared it a 1.3 million-acre National Monument in 2016 at the end of his presidency.

President Trump then reduced the size a year later to about 200,000 acres.

Now that a third consecutive president decided to review it and possibly resize it again, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said this needs to stop.

“There’s nothing fun about what we’ve been arguing about over the past decade here and we can find those solutions. I believe so, and in my heart, I think there’s an opportunity for that,” Cox said.

Senator Mitt Romney also said “pingponging” debate has to end.

During a meeting with Haaland Wednesday, Navajo President Johnathan Nez said 1.9 million acres of the monument needed protection.

Protesters were seen in Blanding during Haaland’s news conference. Some said they preferred no monument, while others wanted the monument restored to 1.3 million acres or possibly even more.

Haaland said she wanted to hear from local leaders, ranchers, residents and as many people as possible.

“We all pretty much want the same thing, right? We want to protect the land,” she said.

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was on the review list after President Trump cut the size of it, as well.

Haaland will take her suggestions to President Biden, and then he will decide what to do.

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