Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is one of the primary targets of President Trump’s April 26th executive order that requires the Department of Interior to assess whether Bears Ears and 26 other monuments should be rescinded or reduced in size. Utah’s delegation is urging the president to eliminate huge areas of Grand Staircase-Escalante to encourage potential coal mining.

This 1.7 million-acre monument is an extraordinary landscape fully deserving of its monument status for a multitude of reasons. While part of the area does include coal reserves, its remote location, declining market conditions, and climate concerns make the idea of coal mining nothing more than economic and environmental folly.

Hoodoo and morning clouds, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Copyright Tom Till

Over the last 20 years, Grand Staircase-Escalante has claimed its place as a crown jewel equal to Utah’s national parks. The monument is world renowned for its remarkable paleontological discoveries, stunning scenery, and outstanding recreational opportunities. Local communities have benefited with significant increases in tourism, new businesses, population growth, and higher per capita income. And polls consistently demonstrate strong support for the monument, including by Utah citizens.

Escalante River hiker, Grand Staircase-Escalante. Copyright Tim Peterson

Of the many reasons to leave Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument just as it is, these are but a few:

  • Since its designation in 1996, Grand Staircase-Escalante has come to be known as the “Science Monument”—yielding several new species of dinosaur and other paleontological finds and providing habitat for 650 bee species, many that are endemic to the area.
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante has incredible camping, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Places like Calf Creek, Peekaboo and Spooky Canyon, Coyote Gulch, and the Hole in the Rock Road are known the world over.
  • Polling shows more than half of Utahns want Grand Staircase-Escalante left alone. That’s added to the more than 80 percent of Westerners that the Colorado College Conservation in the West poll showed want existing national monuments left intact.
  • Reviewing any monument is a political act, but especially when it involves one that is more than two decades old and flourishing. No president has ever taken this needless step, and neither should President Trump.

The public comment period for the Interior Department’s national monument review closed on July 10, 2017. More than 2 million comments favored leaving our national monuments intact.

Paria Badlands in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Copyright Tim Peterson

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