Groups announce lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s executive order


Durango, Colo. (December 4, 2017) – The Conservation Lands Foundation, Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, represented pro bono by the law firm Covington & Burling, announced today that they jointly filed suit in federal court to overturn President Trump's proclamation dismantling Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and carving it into small pieces representing about half of the area protected by the original, 21-year-old national monument.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is one of the world's hotbeds of paleontological research and discovery, world-class destination for recreation and natural beauty, and is a major economic driver for small businesses in the area. The proclamation signed today by President Trump is an attack on protected public lands that is illegal, unprecedented in U.S. history, and opposed by a majority of Americans who share ownership of our public lands.

Nicole Croft, Executive Director, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners:

"The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is deeply woven into the fabric of the communities that surround it. It is the cornerstone of our celebrations and economic engine. Further, it is the enduring symbol of the American West, and one of the last American frontiers. It is a frontier of science, of unparalleled natural wonder, and of the human soul. Changing the boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is unpopular in Utah and all over America. This action gambles with the robust economy thriving in challenging rural communities, threatens our future understanding of the Colorado Plateau and robs future generations of one of our most majestic wild places."

Brian Sybert, Executive Director, Conservation Lands Foundation:

"This is as bad as we expected, based on the lies and misrepresentations that we have heard throughout Secretary Zinke's sham 'review.' This Administration will stop at nothing to ensure that their private industry cronies can profit from the destruction of even our most highly valued public lands, to the point of undoing protections that have been in place for two decades. We look forward to fighting this indefensible and illegal order in the courts–where facts still matter."

David Polly, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology:

"The rock layers of the Monument are like pages in an ancient book–if half of them are ripped out, the plot is lost. After two decades of back-breaking field science we are still discovering new chapters like last year's horned dinosaur Machairoceratops or this year's nearly complete tyrannosaur Teratophoneus. The Antiquities Act was established to protect places of world-class scientific importance and that is exactly what Grand Staircase is."


About Conservation Lands Foundation:

The non-profit Conservation Lands Foundation is the only organization in the country dedicated solely to protecting, restoring and expanding the National Conservation Lands so they will endure from generation to generation. The National Conservation Lands are 36 million acres of protected public lands, rivers and trails, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, that stand proudly alongside our national parks and wildlife refuges, protecting our nation's heritage and helping drive the country's $887 billion outdoor recreation economy.

About Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners:

Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, the official "Friends" organization for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, is committed to preserving and protecting the vast landscape of the National Monument for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

About Society of Vertebrate Paleontology:

Founded in 1940, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is a diverse organization of nearly 2,200 scientists, students, artists, preparators, advocates, writers and scholars across the globe, who are dedicated to the study, discovery, interpretation and preservation of vertebrate fossils.

Media Contact

David Polly
[email protected]

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