Boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah were reinstated with a slight uptick to 1.3 million acres total, President Biden announced on Friday.
Previously, the Trump administration had reduced the size of the protected area by 85%, notes NPR. At the time, a vast majority of Americans opposed the reduction in public lands and nearly 3 million made public comments in favor of keeping protections for both monuments.
The land was to be protected under the Antiquities Act, initiated by President Theodore Roosevelt to preserve historical, cultural and natural treasures.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the nation's first indigenous cabinet member, commented that "Bears Ears is a living landscape." She added, "When I've been there, I've felt the warmth and joy of ancestors who have cared for this special place since time immemorial."
Encompassing land sacred to Native Americans and some 100,000 archeological sites, the again-protected area also boasts stunning red rock formations and "bear's ears" buttes.