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A view of one of the monuments and a road in the Valley of the Gods

President Biden today restored the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah that were dramatically reduced under former President Trump. He also reimposed fishing restrictions at a third monument off the coast of New England.

Former President Barack Obama created the national monument in 2017 just before he left office but the Trump administration cut down the size of the protected area by 85%. Now with Biden’s restoration and a slight increase that includes 11,200 acres that were added during the Trump-era changes, the monument will be approximately 1.3 acres.

Native American tribes are marking today as a victory in a long-fought battle to protect Bears Ears.

Here is Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the nation’s first indigenous cabinet member, commenting today at the White House.

“Bears Ears is a living landscape,” Haaland said. “When I’ve been there, I’ve felt the warmth and joy of ancestors who have cared for this special place since time immemorial.”

The rugged desert terrain in Southeast Utah is filled with towering red rock formations, significant Native American archeological sites, sprawling fields of sage-colored scrub brush, and of course it’s namesake, the Bears Ears buttes.

Here are some of photos NPR photographer Claire Harbage visited the area on her reporting trip in July 2021:

The Bears Ears buttes at Bears Ear National Monument in San Juan County, Utah in July. Biden also restored Grand Staircase-Escalante and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monuments on Friday.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


The Bears Ears buttes at Bears Ear National Monument in San Juan County, Utah in July. Biden also restored Grand Staircase-Escalante and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monuments on Friday.

Claire Harbage/NPR

A view of one of the Bears Ears with a cow grazing in front in July.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


A view of one of the Bears Ears with a cow grazing in front in July.

Claire Harbage/NPR

A view of one of the Bears Ears in July. Biden will restore the monument to a slightly expanded size on Friday.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


A view of one of the Bears Ears in July. Biden will restore the monument to a slightly expanded size on Friday.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Mule Canyon Ruin an ancient Anasazi site in Bears Ears. The land holds great importance to several Native American tribes.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Mule Canyon Ruin an ancient Anasazi site in Bears Ears. The land holds great importance to several Native American tribes.

Claire Harbage/NPR

A view in The Valley of the Gods, part of the area that was removed from the national monument when Trump reduced it’s size by 85% in 2017.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


A view in The Valley of the Gods, part of the area that was removed from the national monument when Trump reduced it’s size by 85% in 2017.

Claire Harbage/NPR

The view from Moki Dugway Scenic Highway in Southeast Utah an area that will be included in the Bears Ears National Monument with Biden’s restoration.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


The view from Moki Dugway Scenic Highway in Southeast Utah an area that will be included in the Bears Ears National Monument with Biden’s restoration.

Claire Harbage/NPR

A truck drives on a flat road and stirs up a lot of dust

A view of a rock formation in The Valley of the Gods. Deb Haaland, interior secretary advised Biden to restore the monument in June.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


A view of a rock formation in The Valley of the Gods. Deb Haaland, interior secretary advised Biden to restore the monument in June.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Left: Flowers growing near the Mule Canyon ruins in July. Right: A small lizard blends into a hiking path, also near Mule Canyon.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


Left: Flowers growing near the Mule Canyon ruins in July. Right: A small lizard blends into a hiking path, also near Mule Canyon.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Moki Dugway, a scenic gravel road that is cut into a cliff in Southeast Utah and winds it’s way down 1,200 feet to the valley below.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Moki Dugway, a scenic gravel road that is cut into a cliff in Southeast Utah and winds it’s way down 1,200 feet to the valley below.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Dusk settles over The Valley of the Gods. The new boundary of Bears Ears not only restores Obama’s original boundaries but also include 11,200 acres that were added during the Trump-era changes.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


Dusk settles over The Valley of the Gods. The new boundary of Bears Ears not only restores Obama’s original boundaries but also include 11,200 acres that were added during the Trump-era changes.

Claire Harbage/NPR



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