National monuments case advances as court rules against Trump


The Sixshooter Peaks in Bears Ears National Monument, San Juan County, Utah. U.S. Bureau of Land Management public domain image

WASHINGTON — Yesterday evening the coalition fighting to protect Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments cleared a milestone in the legal battle for the future of these public lands when the court denied the Trump Administration’s motion to dismiss the case.

“While the legal fight has played out, the Trump Administration has rushed through new management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase to open up hundreds of thousands of acres to mining, obliterating forests by dragging anchor chains through them, and new fossil fuel development,” says a press release issued by Earthjustice.

Heidi McIntosh, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Rocky Mountains Office, stated: “We’re pleased the court denied the Trump’s Administration’s motion to dismiss and look forward to the next step: showing that President Trump violated the law when he dismantled Bears Ears and Grand Staircase. When Trump went after our national monuments, he thought he could ride roughshod over this country’s cultural and natural heritage, and auction off iconic public lands that belong to all of us. But this remains a country of laws. We will work relentlessly until we ensure that Bears Ears and Grand Staircase are protected forever as they were meant to be.”


Metate Arch in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Escalante, Utah. Photo by John Fowler from Placitas, NM, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

In late 2017 Trump slashed Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, stripping nearly 2 million acres of public lands of Antiquities Act protections in the largest rollback of federal public land protection in history. The action ignited protests in Salt Lake City – and lawsuits filed within hours in Washington, D.C., by Native American tribes, conservation, outdoor recreation, and paleontology groups seeing to defend these monuments.

About the combined lawsuits:

Earthjustice represents nine groups challenging President Trump’s actions: The Wilderness Society, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance are co-plaintiffs in the cases, represented by counsel from those organizations.

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