The Colorado River winds through Lockhart Basin south of Moab. Lockhart Basin is among the areas that President Donald Trump removed from Bears Ears National Monument that was later restored by President Joe Biden. Credit: Tim Peterson / Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

Add another chapter to the long-running back and forth between the state of Utah and U.S. federal authorities over Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments: on August 24, the State of Utah filed a lawsuit challenging the 2021 reinstatement of the monuments’ boundary lines. 

Read the full text of the lawsuit against President Joe Biden for the restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated by former President Bill Clinton in 1996 at 1.7 million acres, and sparked some local opposition at the time it was designated. Bears Ears National Monument was designated in 2016 by President Barack Obama, placing 1.3 million acres under federal protection. 

In 2017, President Donald Trump reduced Bears Ears by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by almost half. Last October, President Joe Biden restored the monuments to their original acreages through an executive order. 

In December 2021, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes indicated the state had retained legal counsel and would likely file suit against the restoration.

“We have done so,” he wrote, “because recent opinions from members of the U.S. Supreme Court strongly indicate that President Biden’s use of the Antiquities Act is the wrong way to protect such vast areas of southern Utah.”

The lawsuit filed in federal court on Wednesday follows that logic and challenges the use of the Antiquities Act of 1906, alleging that the monuments’ boundaries are unreasonably expansive and “endanger what they purport to protect” by promoting tourism to the areas.

The State of Utah’s suit is joined by Kane and Garfield counties, which contain the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. San Juan County, which contains Bears Ears National Monument, is not a party to the suit.

Read the lawsuit below