President Trump announced controversial cuts to national monuments in Utah on Monday.
Trump called for an 85 percent cut to Utah’s 1.3 million acre Bears Ears National Monument created in 2016 by Barack Obama and a 50 percent cut to the state’s 1.9 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument created by Bill Clinton in 1996. The new proclamations came in a speech and Utah and promises to split up both monuments into several smaller ones.
Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) is expected to introduce legislation to carry out the cuts, a House aide said. Trump will also ask Congress to look at the areas being removed from the current monuments to consider designating some as a national conservation or national recreation areas, will creating a co-management structure for tribes, according to Reuters.
The announcement follows a review conducted by the Interior Department that began last April to identify which of the 27 monuments created by past presidents could be rescinded or scaled back to make room for more development.
These monuments were created under the 1906 Antiquities Act, a law that gives presidents the authority to protect sacred and significant areas of federal land by presidential proclamation.
The cuts could lead to lawsuits from Native American tribes who consider Bears Ears sacred. Conservation group and outdoor clothing company Patagonia has also said it plans to file a legal challenge.
Conservation groups and activists have expressed their disappointment with the president’s decision, which they believe will lead to more fracking and oil drilling in the state.
The President will be traveling to Utah – not to celebrate tribal sacred sites but to gut protections for Bears Ears and other wild national monuments. Tell @POTUS this move is wrong for our nation’s tribes and wrong for #wildlife. #StandWithBearsEars https://t.co/Yti9HCllpt pic.twitter.com/kdFanm77fj
— Wildlife Action (@wildlifeaction) November 30, 2017
Utah loves its monuments! #standwithbearsears #SaveGrandStaircase pic.twitter.com/vxCM2aGE0S
— Sierra Club Utah (@UtahSierraClub) December 2, 2017
#Pocahontas statement was just last week. Today, sacred Native American lands at risk as #Trump is expected to announce reduction of #Utah monuments. It’s kind of baffling. https://t.co/r2F7vS5oPl
— Nik Wojcik (@nik_shine) December 4, 2017
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Not all Utah residents are upset about the announcement. State representative Mike Noel from Kane County—location of the Grand Staircase—said reducing the size of the monument will boost the state’s economy.
If successful, the move will represent the most significant reductions by any president to designations made under the Antiquities Act.