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Trump heading to Utah and is expected to reduce size of two national monuments

Posted on: December 1, 2017


President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday, Dec. 4, and he is expected to announce plans to slash the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is organizing rallies at the Utah State Capitol on Saturday, December 2, and Monday, December 4, to oppose the reductions.

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According to leaked documents obtained by The Washington Post and Outside Magazine, Bears Ears may be reduced by 85 percent, from 1.35 million acres to 201,397 acres, and Grand Staircase-Escalante may be reduced by about half its current size, from 1.9 million acres to 997,490 acres. The Washington Post reported that its sources cautioned changes could still be made before Trump makes his final announcement, but the plans outlined in the documents call for the following changes, as explained by The Post:

Grand Staircase-Escalante would be split into three areas known as Grand Staircase National Monument, Kaiparowits National Monument and Escalante Canyons National Monument. Bears Ears will be divided into Indian Creek National Monument and the Shash Jaa National Monument, the latter of which will include two well-known ruins, Moon House and Doll House.

Looking east from the summit of North Six Shooter in Indian Creek, Utah, provides a glimpse of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument. South Six Shooter is in the foreground and Bridger Jack Butte and pinnacles are in the middle ground. The Abajo Mountains are in the background to the right and the La Sal Mountains are just out of view to the left. Canyonlands National Park lies behind the photographer, just a few miles to the west. [Photo] Derek FranzLooking east from the summit of North Six Shooter in Indian Creek, Utah, provides a glimpse of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument. President Donald Trump is expected to announce plans to reduce the monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by half of its current 1.9-million-acre size on December 4. [Photo] Derek Franz

Copies of maps illustrating the proposed changes can be found here.

Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Bears Ears Monument was designated by President Barack Obama less than a year ago. Last April, Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all monuments that were designated since 1996 and larger than 100,000 acres. Zinke submitted a final report with his recommendations to Trump at the end of August but didn't disclose any details to the public. His report was ultimately leaked to The Washington Post and it was revealed that he had recommended shrinking the monuments.

The Bears Ears region is culturally significant for at least five Native American Tribes that banded together in recent years to form the Utah Dine Bikeyah and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. The tribes started the campaign to protect the region in 2009 and plan to fight any changes to the monuments in court. Natalie Landreth, an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, told The Salt Lake City Tribune, "The tribes view this as an affront to themselves and their own self-determination. All of us, all five tribes, will be suing jointly the day he makes an announcement." The monument also contains world-class climbing areas such as Indian Creek. Other organizations are likely to file lawsuits as well.

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