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5 New National Monuments

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This week, the country gained five new national monuments. From the St. Francis Dam in Los Angeles to Medgar Evers' house in Jackson, Miss., the new monuments span the country and represent the history of the land. The monuments were included in the largest bipartisan public lands bill that Congress has passed in a decade, and it was signed by President Trump earlier this week. One of the new monuments is in Utah. More than 2,500 acres of land in the state is now Jurassic National Monument.

JIM KIRKLAND: Jurassic National Monument - I'm kind of wishing it was called Allosaurus National Monument since that's really the thing it's famous for.

BLOCK: That's paleontologist Jim Kirkland. He says the area is known for its wealth of Allosaurus fossils - Allosaurus dinosaurs, which are similar, of course, to the T. rex.

KIRKLAND: Any school kid that likes dinosaurs will tell you, though, you can tell Allosaurus because it's got three fingers, and T. rex only has two.

BLOCK: Kirkland says he hopes the new designation will help provide the stability and cash flow to keep scientific research alive. The Sierra Club, which also supported the designation, has other hopes for the site. Executive Director Michael Brune points out the Trump administration downsized two other national monuments in the area in 2017. It shrank Bears Ears by over 80 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by almost half. Brune believes this new designation sends a message to the Trump administration.

MICHAEL BRUNE: Our hope is that the public support, the bipartisan support for this bill will teach, if not remind, the administration that this is what Americans want. They want to see our lands, our waters, our communities and our parks protected.

BLOCK: The Sierra Club has filed suit with other environmental groups to keep Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante at their original size. And while that is working its way through the courts, Brune and Kirkland plan to enjoy Utah's newest national monument. And they hope the rest of the public does, too.

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