Biden to restore protective status to fishery, millions of Utah acres Trump opened to economy

Biden also set to restore protections to a New England marine conservation being used for commercial fishing under Trump order.
President Trump signs executive order. Salt lake City, Utah. Dec. 4, 2017.
(George Frey/Getty Images)

President Biden is restoring protected status to two national monuments in Utah, reversing the Trump administration's decision to open them for mining and development. 

The Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments are together over 3.2 million acres. They were created by Democratic administrations under a century-old law that allows presidents to protect sites considered historic, geographically or culturally important, according to the Associated Press

In addition, Biden is also set to announce Friday that he’ll restore protections to a New England marine conservation being used for commercial fishing under an order by President Trump.

Trump invoked the century-old Antiquities Act to cut 2 million acres from the two Utah monuments, calling restrictions on mining and other energy production a "massive land grab" that "should never have happened," amid opposition from Native Americans and others who said it was sacred ground. 

Utah GOP Gov. Spencer Cox expressed disappointment in Biden's decision to restore the Utah monuments, which Trump downsized significantly in 2017, the wire service also reports.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, praised the Biden administration, saying restoring the monuments shows its dedication to "conserving our public lands and respecting the voices of Indigenous Peoples."

In New England, Biden's plan also restores protections in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Cape Cod. 

Trump had made a rule change to allow commercial fishing in a nearly 5,000-square-mile area, a move supported by fishing groups but opposed by environmentalists, also according to the Associated Press.