President Biden designates new national monument near Grand Canyon

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President Biden designated a new national monument near the Grand Canyon on Tuesday. The move protects lands that are sacred to indigenous peoples and permanently bans new uranium mining claims in the area. It covers nearly 1 million acres.

Tuesday’s announcement is part of a trip including New Mexico and Utah, where Biden is making the case for how he’s tackling the climate and economic challenges facing Americans in the West. The proclamation utilized the Antiquities Act to establish the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument.

“It’s exciting; it’s much needed. We couldn’t be happier,” said Sandy Bahr, Director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “The President took this important step, he listened to the tribes. This was a tribally led effort, and it’s just an amazing moment for Arizona,” said Bahr.

President Biden invoked the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect the land near the Grand Canyon. The Antiquities Act was signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt and was the first U.S. law to provide general legal protection of cultural and natural resources of historic or scientific interest on federal lands.

Tribal coalitions have been attempting to get this protection for quite some time. In April of this year, they made a specific request to President Biden who heard their plea and enacted the protections.

“The President acknowledged that there isn’t a great history in some ways with protected areas. Native peoples were evicted to establish some national parks including the Grand Canyon. He talked a lot about this being a part of what we need to do to acknowledge the history and do right going forward,” said Bahr.

The tribes will now take on a co-managing role of the monument with the National Parks Service. It remains to be seen how exactly the authority will be split.

Sandy Bahr, Director of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter

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