Yet-to-be-discovered dinosaur fossils may be at risk after Trump slashed the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante

Southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument may have originally safeguarded untapped troves of ancient fossils, but the Trump administration’s unprecedented reduction of the monument has exposed vast deposits of these scientific treasures to potential energy development.

Areas removed from the Staircase are nearly as rich in fossils as those that remain, according to an analysis by the Wilderness Society.

“The fossil resources are throughout the original monument. The redrawn monument has no correlation with the fossil resources now at risk of fracking,” said Dan Hartinger, the society’s national monuments campaign director. “The paleontological science keeps getting better. The risk is we might not even know what we are losing until it’s too late.”

The Bureau of Land Management is accepting public comment through Nov. 30, 2018 on its draft plans for the reduced monument and lands pulled from the previous 1.9 million-acre Staircase. The 1 million acres in the shrunken monument will remain off-limits to mineral development.

But in deference to President Donald Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda for public lands, the BLM’s preferred alternative prioritizes energy extraction on much of the 900,000 acres taken out.

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