President Trump Has Officially Ordered A Dramatic Shrinking Of Two Utah National Monuments

President Trump traveled to Utah on Monday to deliver a speech where he repeatedly mispronounced the state’s name and announced he was reducing the size of Bears Ears (by about 85%) and Grand Staircase-Escalante (by about 50%) national monuments, moves that were not unexpected. The two national monuments, designated as such by Presidents Obama and Clinton, respectively, stand to lose over two million acres of protected land between them.

In his speech, President Trump said that the natural resources that may now become available to various commercial interests at these sites “should not be controlled by small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington.” The Bureau of Land Management employees that manage both sites work out of offices near the national monuments in rural southern Utah:

Environmentalists and some native tribes say Mr. Trump’s move will destroy the national heritage and threaten some 100,000 sites of archaeological importance tucked into the monuments’ desert landscapes. Conservative lawmakers and many Westerners argue that the move is the proper response to decades of federal overreach.

In April, Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the 27 national monuments created since 1996 and Zinke later issued a report recommending shrinking six areas of protected land.

The Navajo Nation, as well as other native tribes and conservation groups, have already pledged to challenge Trump’s decision in court. If Trump were to lose a court battle over this issue, it could set a precedent that solidifies the powers the president has under the Antiquities Act to designate lands for federal protection as well as keep Obama’s boundaries of Bears Ears intact.

(Via CNN & New York Times)