Press Release Aug 11, 2023

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments Safeguarded as Court Dismisses Utah Suits

Utah Court Upholds Presidential Authority to Establish National Monuments

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — A Utah federal judge dismissed two lawsuits, led by the state of Utah, that attempted to reverse President Biden’s restoration and expansion of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and attacked the President’s use of the Antiquities Act as unlawful. These monuments were gutted by the former administration, who cut the boundaries of Bears Ears by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 45%. And since this unlawful attack, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), along with Tribal nations and partner groups, has committed to using every tool to defend the monuments and the Antiquities Act itself.

In the ruling, District Judge David Nuffer emphasized that the Antiquities Act gives the president broad authority to designate national monuments and that the court could not second guess that judgment. The ruling upholds President Biden’s restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. To date, no court has been willing to reverse the designation of a national monument.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):

“The court’s decision not only safeguards Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments but also upholds the law that was used to protect them and some of our nation’s most treasured landscapes and waters. For its 116-year existence, nearly every U.S. President has used the Antiquities Act, and this critical ruling ensures this law and the presidential authority it provides remain strong for generations to come.

“Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are sacred spaces that provide healing, sustain life and protect and connect one of America’s most iconic national park landscapes. They’ve been under attack for years, and this ruling puts an end to another blatant attempt to strip away protections for the lands this important conservation law safeguards.

“This ruling is a victory for all our national monuments and the many more to come. NPCA proudly stands with Tribal nations, local communities and businesses, and countless people across the country who have defended the Antiquities Act and the national monuments protected under this law. We will continue to do so until all our treasured places are protected now and for the future.”


About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.5 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit