Haaland meets with Utah politicians, tribes as Biden weighs monument changes

Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandIndigenous advocacy group launches campaign against new voting bills Biden nominates Interior deputy as department’s top lawyer Overnight Energy: Haaland making moves: Discusses public lands drilling, creates unit to investigate missing and murdered Native Americans MORE met with Utah politicians, tribal leaders and other stakeholders Wednesday and Thursday as President BidenJoe BidenManchin throws cold water on using budget reconciliation Moderate GOP senators and Biden clash at start of infrastructure debate Omar slams Biden admin for continuing ‘the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall’ MORE weighs whether to change the boundaries of two monuments that were shrunk by former President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz trip to Bahamas part of federal sex trafficking investigation: report Omar slams Biden admin for continuing ‘the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall’ Biden to announce executive action on ghost guns, red flag laws MORE.

“I spent time on the land, I looked at pictographs, vistas that take your breath away,” Haaland said during a press conference Thursday on her trip to the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.

“I’m meeting with as many people as possible: tribal leaders, the governor, senators, Congress members, hearing from local folks, county commissioners later on today, local ranchers and the mining industry … the outdoor recreation folks, small business owners, conservation organizations, and, of course, the scientists,” Haaland said. 

On her trip, ahead of a report that she will send to Biden, she’s also expected to visit the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

Trump shrunk the size of the Obama- and Clinton-designated monuments by some 2 million acres, and reopened an East Coast marine monument to commercial fishing. 

In an executive order earlier this year, Biden directed Haaland to review the three monuments to determine “whether restoration of the monument boundaries and conditions that existed as of January 20, 2017, would be appropriate.”

Haaland did not say Thursday what the Biden administration will ultimately decide, noting “it’ll be up to the president.”

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

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