President Donald Trump announced today that two national monuments in Utah will be drastically reduced in size, despite the objections of Native American groups who want the land to remain protected.
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The Bears Ears National Monument will be reduced by more than 80 percent, to 230,000 acres from the current 1.3 million acres. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will also be reduced to about 1 million acres from 1.9 million acres.
“Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what, they’re wrong,” Trump said in his announcement at the Utah State Capitol on Monday.
The land will still be managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, however, even though it is no longer part of a national monument, according to an official from the Interior Department. Bears Ears has also been managed by a local commission of representatives from the five tribes in the area who provide recommendations to the agencies managing the land.
“It is still federal land, with all the protections of federal land. The biggest change is we are allowing greater use on the areas that were previously in the monument,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on Air Force One, saying that the move will allow grazing on land that is no longer part of the monument as well as recreation activities.
But critics of the decision say that shrinking monuments is bad for local economies that rely on tourism and outdoor recreation. The Outdoor Industry Association tweeted today that it is against shrinking Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase, and New Mexico Republican Sen. Tom Udall also said it would be bad for the recreation economy.
.@realdonaldtrump dismantling Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante ignores the voices of millions of Americans and hundreds of businesses. Weakness on protecting our monuments goes against America’s heritage. RT if you agree.
— Outdoor Industry (@OIA) December 4, 2017
Trump said Monday the announcement would give locals a greater say in how the land was managed, but tribes that consider the monument sacred and live in reservations adjoining the current borders say they have not been consulted equally in making the decision to change the borders. Zinke said they worked with…