President Joe Biden on Tuesday designated a new national monument during his visit to Arizona, a state critical to his re-election campaign after flipping it by over 10,000 votes in the 2020 presidential election.
The monument will conserve nearly 1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park as well thousands of cultural and sacred sites that are precious to Tribal Nations in the Southwest, according to a White House facts sheet.
Speaking near the Grand Canyon, Biden said the goal of preserving the land for activities like hiking, biking, and camping would also help grow the area’s tourism economy.
“That very act of preserving the Grand Canyon as a national park was used to deny indigenous people full access to their homelands, to the places where they hunted, gathered, and took precious sacred ancestral sites,” Biden said.
“They fought for decades to be able to return to these lands, to protect these lands from mining and development, to clear them of contamination, to preserve their shared legacy for future generations,” he added.
During a call with senior administration officials, reporters were asked if the new monument would be co-managed by local tribes. The White House said the declaration will support co-stewardship of the monument.
Biden also slammed “MAGA extremists in Congress” for attempting to undo his administration’s climate and infrastructure efforts.
“At a time when some seek to ban books and bury history, we’re making it clear that we can’t just choose to learn only what we want to know. We should learn everything that’s good, bad and the truth about who we are as a nation,” Biden said. “That’s what great nations do, and we are the greatest of all nations.”
The trip to Arizona kicks off a three-state tour, where he’ll tout policy victories that will benefit climate infrastructure and clean energy projects.
However, Biden’s trip was not marked with praise by all. Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) said he feels the President is not doing enough when it comes to climate.
“I do think he should be doing more,” he told ABC News.
Phoenix became the first state in U.S. history to have deadly, triple-digit temperatures in June and July for three consecutive weeks, which included an all-time high of 118 degrees.
Biden vowed to do more to combat the extreme heat with throughout August and September.
“Extreme heat is America’s number one weather-related killer,” he said. “Extreme hills heat kills more people than floods hurricanes and tornadoes combined. And it’s threatening the farms, the forests, and the fisheries of so many families depend on to make a living.”