Trump Set To Gut 2 Protected Utah Monuments On Monday

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will travel to Utah on Monday — a state where lawmakers are known for attacking public lands — to announce sweeping cuts to a pair of protected national monuments there.

The boundary of Bears Ears National Monument, a 1.35 million-acre area named after a pair of buttes and home to thousands of Native American archeological and cultural sites, will shrink by 85 percent, according to a pair of proclamations first reported on by The Washington Post and later obtained by HuffPost. The 1.87 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the largest land national monument in the country, will be cut roughly in half, according to the documents. 

The proclamations would reduce Bears Ears to 201,397 acres and Grand Staircase-Escalante to 997,490 acres — a collective loss of more than 2 million acres. Additionally, both monuments would be divvied up into several smaller monuments.

The document indicates that Bears Ears would lose its official name, replaced with two monuments called Indian Creek and Shash Jaa. Grand Staircase-Escalante would become three new monuments: Grand Staircase, Escalante Canyons and Kaiparowitz. 

The two Utah sites, in particular Bears Ears, have been at the center of recent controversy over the Trump administration’s attempts to slash acreage from or otherwise weaken protected sites.

Members of Utah’s Republican delegation and other local officials have described the establishment of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, designated by former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton respectively,  as clear examples of federal overreach. Early on, they called on Trump to take action.

In April, Trump signed a pair of executive orders threatening the future of 27 national monuments. At the signing ceremony, he praised Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) for his “never-ending prodding” on the issue and boasted that he would end “another egregious abuse of federal power,” put “states back in charge” and opening up now-protected areas to “tremendously positive things.”

Trump’s visit to Salt Lake City comes after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted a report to the White House in late August, recommending that the president weaken protections for a number of national monuments designated or expanded under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Previously, in June, Zinke had recommended that Trump shrink Bears Ears’ boundaries.

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal…

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