Federal Court Upholds Biden Administration Redesignation of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments

August 14, 2023

In an important win for preservation, on Friday, August 11, 2023, the Utah Federal District Court granted the federal government’s motion to dismiss challenges to the redesignation of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This ruling upholds the Biden administration’s October 2021 proclamations to redesignate them.

“This court decision represents an important precedent upholding the protection of our natural and cultural heritage,” said Elizabeth Merritt, deputy general counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "It's an extremely gratifying victory."

The Utah Attorney General has already filed an appeal of the court’s ruling, and the National Trust intends to participate in that appeal to support full protection of the Bears Ears National Monument.

The National Trust was part of a broad and diverse coalition that went to court back in 2017 to challenge President Trump’s attempt to revoke the original designation of Bears Ears National Monument by President Obama. That litigation became unnecessary when President Biden redesignated the national monuments in October 2021.

Learn more about the ruling via The Salt Lake Tribune.

This May, our Preservation Month theme is “People Saving Places” to shine the spotlight on everyone doing the work of saving places—in big ways and small—and inspiring others to do the same!