We should rename them the Yo-Yo Monuments. Yo-Yo 1 and Yo-Yo 2. Or maybe the Ping-Pong monuments.
That’s because when the next Republican president is elected (a real possibility as soon as 2024) the boundaries of Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments are likely to yo-yo back to the smaller size dictated by Pres. Trump.
The monuments should not have been created by executive fiat in the first place. That makes them susceptible to the whims of the next president, as we’ve seen.
Until Congress acts and makes the monuments and their boundaries permanent, we’re going to have Ping-Pong monuments. Yo-yoing back and forth is no way to treat precious lands.
By unilaterally changing the boundaries, Biden missed a big opportunity to do something permanent. He has a Democratic Congress and a Utah congressional delegation ready to negotiate. Permanent monuments of the right size could have been the result.
Biden and his public lands administrators could have worked with moderates like Gov. Spencer Cox, Sen. Mitt Romney, and congressmen John Curtis and Blake Moore. They would have negotiated in good faith with all parties, especially Native Americans. They would have supported large monuments (but not as large as were originally created by presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama).
In making his announcement, Biden said restoring the larger monument boundaries was maybe the easiest thing he’s done as president. That means it was easy to ignore Congress and the wishes of Utah elected officials and most citizens. That was a slap in the face. If he and his administration cared at all about local input, it should have at least been a close call after meaningful negotiation. Biden obviously has no clue about the dynamics of a public land state.
So, another day, another issue demonstrating how broken the federal system of governance is. Another instance of Congress allowing (and sometimes encouraging) the executive branch to do its work. Another example of Big Government running roughshod over the wishes of state and local leaders.
All of it to be repeated in a few years when Republicans take over.