Senator Romney reacts to Biden’s national monument designation in Arizona

SALT LAKE CITY – President Joe Biden had a busy week last week in the four corner states as he visited Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, and eventually made a trip up to Park City for a fundraising event.

While in Arizona, Biden signed a proclamation establishing the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon as a National Monument in Arizona.

The proclamation of the newly designated National Monument has drawn praise and criticism alike, with some saying the designation will protect the Colorado River and honor the Native American tribes who lived there, while others criticize the designation as it eliminates a domestic source of uranium.

The designation is apart of the President’s America the Beautiful Initiative, which aims to conserve and restore 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. Located in northwestern Arizona near the Utah-Arizona border, the Ancestral Footprints National Monument will conserve nearly 1 million acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon National Park.

This designation marks the fifth national monument established by Biden since he took office, and in Utah, he restored and enlarged the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in 2021. The state of Utah recently challenged these restorations in court, which was ultimately thrown out by U.S. District Judge David Nuffer.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney recently criticized the President’s recent designation in Arizona.

“National monuments have become a political football tossed back and forth as presidential administrations change,” Romney said. “President Biden’s proclamation of 1.1 million acres around the Grand Canyon as a national monument continues the cycle of Antiquities Act abuse by the Executive Branch.”

“Although the monument would be entirely in Arizona, it will be detrimental to ranchers in southern Utah. Ranchers in Washington and Kane Counties, who graze their cattle on the public lands on the Arizona Strip, will be faced with burdensome restrictions or be prevented from using the land altogether,” Romney continued.

While Romney criticizes the designation, others, such as Amelia Flores, the chairwoman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, have praised the newly designated national monument.

“We thank President Biden and his administration for taking this vital step forward to protect the health of the Colorado River, the surrounding lands, and the irreplaceable cultural resources,” Flores said. “This designation honors the tribal connections to the surrounding lands and the value of tribal stewardship in protecting the waters that flow through the Grand Canyon down to our reservation.”

The designation of the Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will prohibit any commercial activities on the 1-million acres of the new monument, which used to be a major source of domestic uranium production, a reason as to why Romney has opposed the designation.

“The Arizona Strip is one of the most productive uranium mining districts in the country. By eliminating this important source of uranium, President Biden has increased both our dependence on Russia and China and our ultimate carbon footprint, while decreasing our energy efficiency. It is disappointing that with this proclamation, the President has once again ignored the concerns of those who live closest to the land,” Romney said.

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