Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - Header
Ed Moss

NM - legal update (header)

Legal Update

Grand Staircase-Escalante - legal update (text)

Following President Trump's slashing of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Trust and our partners filed suit. We believe his actions were unlawful, but it will probably be years before the courts conclusively rule on that question.

Lands stripped of protection

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson

Grand Staircase-Escalante/Bears Ears - what you can do

What you can do

The Bureau of Land Management is forging ahead with plans to manage the shrunken Grand Staircase, as well as lands cut out of the monument. The agency’s draft management plans prioritize mining, cattle grazing, logging, and motorized recreation over the protection of cultural resources, wildlife, fossils, and wild lands. They also fail to meet the minimum standards required to protect the values for which the monument was established. Learn more about the BLM's inadequate plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase.

Grand Staircase-Escalante - BLM plans (Death Hollow)

What's wrong with the proposed plans?

The BLM's draft plans propose putting cattle back in the popular Escalante River and Death Hollow drainages, which haven't been grazed in 20 and 30 years, respectively. Thousands of hours of labor and millions of dollars have been spent restoring these canyons to a more natural condition. These plans threaten to undo that progress. The BLM admits its preferred alternative would produce the most toxic air pollution and the most light pollution of night skies, result in the greatest impacts on cultural and fossil resources, and cause the greatest adverse impacts on fish and wildlife.


Grand Staircase-Escalante - what happens

What carving up a monument means for the land

A Canadian company has aquired new copper and cobalt claims on former monument lands. Learn more ›

Grand Staircase-Escalante - what happens (2)

map of mining claims in bears ears and grand staircase

Now fragmented into three units, Trump’s shrunken monument opens up hundreds of thousands of acres of previously protected land to mining, drilling, increased off-road vehicle use, and destructive vegetation treatments, including tearing down piñon and juniper trees and re-seeding with non-native grasses for catttle.

Grand Staircase-Escalante - current work (intro)

The Grand Canyon Trust has been working to protect lands within Grand Staircase-Escalante National monument for more than two decades.

In 1997, when the Utah Association of Counties and Mountain States Legal Foundation sued the government over President Clinton’s monument designation, we intervened to help defend Grand Staircase. We also have a long history of advocating for better management of livestock grazing in the monument, including documenting impacts of overgrazing, supporting the removal of invasive Russian olive and tamarisk from the Escalante River corridor, measuring biological soil crusts (or lack therof), and working with willing ranchers to retire grazing permits along the Escalante River. Take a look at our current work in Grand Staircase:

Grand Staircase-Escalante - on the ground work (text)

Springs restoration

Springs restoration

Cattle have trampled and muddied many springs inside and outside of the reduced monument boundaries. With the help of volunteers, we are assessing springs across Grand Staircase. Learn more ›


Measure biocrusts

Biological soil crust is a living skin of lichens, mosses, and cyanobacteria, but it’s easily damaged by cattle, off-road vehicles, and hikers’ boots. We work with volunteers and scientists to measure biocrusts. Read our report ›

Where cows don't graze

We’re working on a multi-year project to map all public lands on the Colorado Plateau that are formally closed to livestock grazing and report on the conditions of these ungrazed lands. Volunteer on the project ›

Grand Staircase-Escalante - grazing reform

Better (and less) grazing in Grand Staircase

Cattle graze across more than 95 percent of Grand Staircase, yet the BLM is proposing more grazing.

Back in 2014, the BLM set out to craft a first-ever grazing plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Trust, alongside The Wilderness Society and Great Old Broads for Wilderness, submitted the sustainable grazing alternative centered on protecting water quality, native plants, biocrusts, and animal habitats. The agency agreed to include most of our alternative alongside four other possible plans, but the planning process was halted shortly after.

Now that the BLM is rushing to write management plans for the shrunken Grand Staircase, we have brought our sustainable grazing alternative back to life. But the BLM has refused to consider it as is. Read more ›

Heavily grazed lands in Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase-Escalante - Johnson Lakes (text)

What recovering land looks like

Richard and Susan Knezevich own 800 acres of cattle-free land surrounded on three sides by Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. In 2014, they teamed up with the Trust to establish Johnson Lakes Canyon as a long-term restoration site. Thanks to the Knezeviches, volunteers, and the fence that keeps cattle out, native plants, animals, and biocrusts are returning and wetlands are improvimproving across their property. Johnson Lakes is a lesson in recovery and an example of what Grand Staircase could look like if cattle were managed differently on monument lands. More about Johnson Lakes ›

Cattle-free land in Johnson Lakes Canyon

Marra Clay
Marra Clay
Marra Clay
Marra Clay
Ed Moss

Grand Staircase-Escalante - CPE

Experience Grand Staircase

Whether you squeeze through narrow slot canyons, traverse across slickrock, or float down the Escalante River, you’ll quickly see why Grand Staircase deserves protection as a national monument. 

Explore the monument on foot ›

National Monuments Blog


A behind the scene look at the process of mapping where pinyon jays live in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Read More

Putting cows back into the Escalante River would undermine the massive effort and millions of dollars already sunk into restoring the landscape.

Read More

The Trump administration sees a silver lining in opening over half a million monument acres to mining.

Read More
Copyright © 2019 Grand Canyon Trust