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Certain sandstone arches in Utah emit a steady hum. Shown here: Metate Arch in Devil's Garden, Utah. raphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Zoe Woodcraft

The sound is like a low, steady rumble, soothing yet powerful. Imperceptible to the human ear, the hums of red rock arches in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments carry with them the deep patterns of the earth's plates sparked by events like ocean currents colliding in the open Pacific that pump the ocean floor. On the surface, wind spilling over the arches amplifies the vibrations, giving voice to movements in the earth that began thousands of miles away.

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A man holds up a sign in protest during a Utah visit by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. George Frey / Getty Images

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke did not draw the reduced boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah to benefit a political ally, The Associated Press reported Monday.

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The Citadel Ruins at the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management

Even though Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke insisted "this is not about energy," environmentalists and public lands advocates have long suspected the Trump administration's cuts to national monuments were driven by its push for more drilling, mining and other development.

Now, internal Interior Department documents obtained by the New York Times show that gaining access to the oil, natural gas and uranium deposits in Bears Ears and coal reserves in Grand Staircase-Escalante were indeed key reasons behind President Trump's drastic cuts to the two monuments in Utah.

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ksblack99 / Flickr

by Jessica Corbett

Despite protests from conservationists, local tribe leaders, Democratic lawmakers and even the United Nations' expert on Indigenous rights, at 6 a.m. on Friday the Trump administration will allow citizens and companies to start staking claims on sections of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah so the new stakeholders can conduct hard rock mining on the formerly protected lands.

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Gage Skidmore

By John Dougherty

Shock, disappointment and warnings of potential for more armed standoffs over U.S. public lands were among the reactions Monday from two academic experts and a former Oregon county judge to a federal judge's order dismissing the government's criminal charges against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a fourth man linked to militia groups.

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The famous Wahweap Hoodoos at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are no longer protected as a national monument. Mark Stacey / NOAA

By John Gilroy

Just a day after President Donald Trump significantly diminished the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced legislation that would reduce the protections on this unique landscape even further.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante Enhancement Act (H.R. 4558) mirrors President Trump's proclamation by creating three smaller national monuments and one national park that together would preserve roughly 60 percent of the landscape that has been safeguarded by the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument since its inception in 1996.

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