Biden to restore national monument protections slashed by Trump

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Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is seen in July 2021 in Utah (AFP/Patrick T. FALLON)
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Three national US monuments will have their protected status restored Friday, continuing Joe Biden's efforts to roll back the environmental policies of his predecessor.

Under Donald Trump protections around natural areas -- often home to endangered species or archaeological sites -- were rolled back, outraging conservationists and Native American communities.

"President Biden will sign three proclamations restoring protections for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments," the White House said Thursday.

Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante will return to its original size of 1.87 million acres, after Trump cut about 45 percent of its land in 2017. Bears Ears will actually expand under Biden's plans.

In maritime areas -- Northeast Canyons and Seamounts -- the capture of red crabs and American lobsters will be slowly reduced under new fishing protections, until the practice is banned there from September 2023.

Biden will sign the orders on Friday, US media reported.

The areas are home to more than 100,000 archaeological sites, including rock art that is at least 5,000 years old and the remains of 21 previously unknown dinosaur species.

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