President Biden restores Bears Ears National Monument

Proclamation Signing Ceremony at the White House.
Photo Credit: Office of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet

Ute tribes recognized in effort to protect cultural resources 

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined President Joe Biden at the White House for the proclamation signing to restore Bears Ears National Monument. 

“Restoring protections for Bears Ears reaffirms our nation’s commitment to our tribes and to our kids and grandkids, so that they can experience these public lands,” said Bennet. “I deeply appreciate President Biden’s proclamation because it will preserve our nation’s cultural heritage, and protect this sacred place for generations to come. We must now ensure that our nation’s tribes, including the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, are closely involved in the management of Bears Ears National Monument and I will continue to push for the resources needed to fully protect this landscape.” 

Bennet has fought for protecting public land throughout his time in the Senate, including advocating for the establishment of Bears Ears National Monument. In 2016, Bennet applauded President Obama’s national monument proclamation for Bears Ears, which is home to ancestral lands and cultural sites that are sacred to the region, including to the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribes of Colorado, both of whom strongly supported this designation.  

Amid reports that the Trump Administration was considering abolishing or significantly reducing the size of Bears Ears in 2017, Bennet supported protections for the monument and called on the administration to meet with Tribal leadership before any decisions were made. In April 2017, he sent a letter with eight other Western Democratic senators to President Trump urging him to uphold existing protections for all 157 national monuments under review, including Bears Ears. He then spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of our national monuments and the integrity of the Antiquities Act.  

In May 2017, Bennet sent a letter with then-Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to then-U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke urging him to refrain from modifying any national monument designations in Colorado and warning him against taking unprecedented steps to diminish the size of Bears Ears. In December 2017, Bennet denounced President Trump’s decision to shrink Bears Ears. 

In January 2018, Bennet and other senators introduced the America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2018 in response to the Trump Administration’s unprecedented attacks on national monuments. The legislation reinforces that only Congress has the authority to reduce the size of a national monument. In April 2018, Bennet called on Zinke to halt the development of management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments until legal challenges related to former President Trump’s illegal attempt to shrink these monuments have been resolved. 

In July 2021, Bennet wrote to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland urging her to meet with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to hear directly about Tribal members’ priorities and to support their request to restore the size of Bears Ears National Monument. 

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