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Ancient granaries are seen in Bears Ears National Monument outside Blanding, Utah, in 2017. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

President Biden announced Friday the protection of the expansion of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the New England coast.

Why it matters: The decision reverses a Trump-era policy that reduced the Bears Ears Monument's size by 85% in 2017. It also comes after a coalition of Native American tribes urged Biden to restore the monument.

Driving the news: "This may be the easiest thing I've ever done so far as President," Biden said before signing legislation to restore protections for the three national monuments.

  • "These protections provide a bridge to our past, but they also build a bridge to a safer, more sustainable future. One where we strengthen our economy, and pass on a healthy planet to our children and our grandchildren," Biden said.

The moves are consistent with recommendations from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, per the White House. They are supported by the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Justice as well as the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

  • The White House said administration officials met with members of Congress, state and local government officials, representatives of Tribal Nations and other stakeholders before coming to a decision. Haaland also visited Utah to directly meet with local residents and tour the area.
  • Bears Ears and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts were established by former President Obama in 2016. Grand Staircase-Escalante was created by former President Clinton in 1996.

What they're saying: "Today's announcement, it's not just about national monuments. It's about this administration centering the voices of indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations," Haaland said Friday.

  • "The President's actions today writes the new chapter that embraces indigenous knowledge, ensures tribal leadership has a seat at the table and demonstrates that by working together, we can build a brighter future for all of us."

The other side: "The President's decision to enlarge the monuments again is a tragic missed opportunity — it fails to provide certainty as well as the funding for law enforcement, research, and other protections which the monuments need and which only Congressional action can offer," wrote Utah Gov. Spencer Cox in a statement.

Go deeper: Tribes urge Biden to restore Bears Ears National Monument after Trump-era cuts

Go deeper

MMQB: Rodgers continues Bears domination

Bears QB Justin Fields looks on during the game against the Green Bay Packers. Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers continued his dominance over the Bears with a 24-14 win at Soldier Field. Rodgers is now 22-5 in his career against Chicago.

Why it matters: The Bears lost an opportunity to take over first place in the NFC North, instead falling to .500 and losing to the rival Packers for the fifth time in a row.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to Parkland school shooting

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the defense table during jury selection at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty on all counts for carrying out the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members.

Driving the news: Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Wednesday to 17 murder counts and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for carrying out the deadly shooting.

2 hours ago - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.