A Canadian development company could begin exploration for copper, cobalt and other minerals at the national monument despite active legal challenges to the rollback of federal protections at the site.
Glacier Lake Resources Inc., a Vancouver-based company, appears to have filed the first mining claims on lands that were illegally removed by President Donald Trump from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.
In December 2017, President Trump issued two proclamations to remove protections from roughly 2 million acres in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, opening the land to new oil and gas leases, mines, logging and other claims by extractive industries. In June 2018, Glacier Lake Resources announced their intent to mine just a few miles from the boundaries of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Capitol Reef National Park.
NPCA has strongly opposed any rollback in protections at Grand Staircase-Escalante, including the lands that the Trump administration is attempting to cut from the monument. NPCA maintains that President Trump’s executive orders are illegal and that only Congress has the authority to change the boundaries of a national monument. NPCA is part of a lawsuit with multiple stakeholders challenging similar rollbacks at Bears Ears National Monument near Canyonlands National Park.
Mining would have a profound impact on the monument and surrounding national park units. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument landscape provides significant protection for adjacent national parks, including Capitol Reef National Park to the northeast, Bryce Canyon National Park to the northwest and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to the south and east. These federal protections safeguard critical historic and scientific resources, provide wildlife habitat and connectivity between protected landscapes, and limit harmful activities such as irresponsible off-road vehicle use and resource extraction. Mining could affect the views from within the parks, dark night skies, natural sounds, and air and water quality. Industrial development and heavy truck traffic from mining would also adversely affect the health and well-being of nearby communities and negatively impact regional tourism. Healthy national parks rely on well-managed adjacent lands, and robust tourism relies on healthy national parks.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument offers an extraordinary landscape with a trove of scientific and paleontological resources. Mining operations are not only unhealthy, NPCA maintains that they remain illegal as the Trump administration’s boundary revisions continue to face numerous legal challenges.
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