(GRAND CANYON VILLAGE, Ariz.) — President Joe Biden visited Arizona on Tuesday to tout climate investments and designate a new national monument.

Nearly a million acres of land near the Grand Canyon will become Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni, or the Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. Thousands of cultural sites belonging to a dozen Tribal Nations will be protected, and the area will be off-limits for any future uranium mining projects.

“Today marks an historic step of preserving the majesty of this place,” Biden said, adding the designation will “help right the wrongs of the past and conserve this land of ancestral footprints for all generations.”

“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.”

Biden’s Arizona visit is his first stop on a three-state tour during which he’ll tout policy victories that will inject billions of dollars into climate infrastructure and clean energy projects. He contended preserving the lands as a national monument is a positive for the planet and for the economy.

But ahead of his arrival, Republicans blasted Biden’s decision, saying it would create dependency on the federal government.

“This administration’s lack of reason knows no bounds, and their actions suggest that President Biden and his radical advisors won’t be satisfied until the entire federal estate is off limits and America is mired in dependency on our adversaries for our natural resources,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. “This land belongs to the American people, not any administration or bureaucrats who think they make the laws. … I fail to see any rationale in this proposal beyond a selfish political agenda that locks away the very resources we depend on for our daily lives. If President Biden moves forward with this insane proposal, I will fight it in Congress and advocate for responsible stewardship of our resources.”

He was also criticized by one Democrat who said Biden hadn’t done enough to tackle extreme heat that’s blanketed the state this summer.

“I do think he should be doing more,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., told ABC News ahead of Biden’s visit.

Gallego said when he greeted Biden on Monday, he brought up legislation he’s introduced in Congress to add extreme heat to FEMA’s list of major disaster qualifying events so they can draw federal funds.

“Just as northeasterners don’t have to deal with flooding on their own and midwesterners don’t have to deal with blizzards on their own, Arizona communities shouldn’t have to deal with our increasingly dangerous summers on their own — and I’ll keep pushing to ensure they don’t have to,” the congressman said.

Phoenix was an epicenter for deadly, triple-digit temperatures in June and July. The city broke records for consecutive days of high heat, and at one point reached an all-time high of 118 degrees.

Biden touched on extreme heat during his remarks Tuesday, as he said there is “more work ahead to combat the existential threat of climate change.”

“Extreme heat is America’s number one weather-related killer,” the president 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.”

Last month, the Biden administration announced some new steps aimed at helping communities and protecting workers impacted by the weather. That included a first-ever Hazard Alert issued by the Labor Department as well as investments to boost water storage capacity and develop more sophisticated weather forecasts.

In addition to designating the new national monument, the administration also announced on Tuesday a $44 million injection to strengthen climate resilience in national parks. That will include 43 projects across the nation as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the White House said.

The money will come from the Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Democrats last year. Biden took a swipe at Republicans in Congress for voting against the legislation.

“These are investments in our planet, our people and America itself,” Biden said.

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