The Presidential designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante as the nation’s second largest National Monument on September 18, 1996 not only preserved a spectacular 1.9 million-acre natural treasure for future generations to enjoy, but it also heralded a new era of federal landscape conservation.
Prior to 1996, the land now encompassed by the Monument was managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) much the same as the rest of the agency’s 262 million acres across the United States (18% of the country’s total land mass). However, by means of the Proclamation, the President officially recognized this special area as a frontier and declared it the new flagship Monument for the BLM.
The designation of the Monument broke with long-standing precedent. Instead of transferring management to the National Park Service — as had usually happened in the past — the President explicitly entrusted the BLM with its management.