Trump to target Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments: NPR – tech2.org

Trump to target Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments: NPR



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Broken Bow Arch rises from Willow Canyon in the Escalante Canyons region of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Howard Berkes / NPR


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Howard Berkes / NPR

Broken Bow Arch rises from Willow Canyon in the Escalante Canyon region of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Howard Berkes / NPR

President Trump travels to Utah on Monday where he is expected to announce that his administration will drastically reduce the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

The visit covers months of speculation and a controversial review of the boundaries of large national monuments that protect more than 100,000 acres of public land in the United States. The review, conducted by Trump Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, originally badyzed more than two dozen national monuments designated by presidential decree since the 1990s.

But Utah, with its new Bears Ears monument of 1.3 million acres and the 1.8 million acre Grand Staircase National Monument, which has always been at the center of the debate, and to a large extent what spurred the review.

On Monday, during a ceremony at the State Capitol of Utah, Trump is expected to announce plans to reduce the limits of Bears Ears by up to 85 percent. His predecessor, President Obama, created the monument shortly before leaving office. The Grand Staircase monument, which comes from the Clinton administration, could be cut in half.

The Republican delegation from the Utah Congress, along with county commissions and conservative groups, pressured the administration to act.

"President Trump's decision to reduce these Monuments allow us to protect even those areas that need protection, while at the same time keeping the area open and accessible to the locals who depend on this land for their daily lives," he said. Matt Anderson of the Sutherland Institute based in Utah.

Anderson says that large national monuments of public lands damage rural counties. These areas already have large expanses of federal public land, he says, where livestock grazing, mining and other types of private companies are heavily regulated.

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? fuming over President Clinton's designation of Grand Staircase in 1996, which acquired rights to lease livestock and other uses, but also banned a proposed coal mine. Clinton signed the proclamation at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Utah officials at the time said they were surprised.

"When designating a large national monument, it restricts access to land and blocks traditional land uses," Anderson said.

In rural San Juan County, home of Bears Ears, more than 60 percent of all land is owned and operated by the federal government. The county, which also has approximately 50 percent Native Americans, is often cited as one of Utah's poorest.

Ancient barns, part of the House on Fire ruins are displayed here at the South Fork of Mule Canyon at the Bears Ears National Monument outside of Blanding, Utah.

George Frey / Getty Images


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Ancient barns, part of the House on Fire ruins are displayed here at the South Fork of Mule Canyon at the Bears Ears National Monument outside of Blanding, Utah.

George Frey / Getty Images

Depending on which side you are on, the expected drama on Monday is a story about a too-broad federal government that prevented the development of large tracts of federal land with little local support, or is the latest example of non-compliance with government promises from USA UU .

Many tribal leaders and activists began convening in Salt Lake City over the weekend to protest the president's impending decision.

At a meeting on Saturday, Ethel Branch, attorney general of the Navajo Nation, predicted that the president would not even step foot or see the land in question.

"I want you to visit Bears Ears before taking any action," Branch told an enthusiastic crowd at a rally in front of the Utah Capitol.

That's unlikely, with the monument more than five hours from Salt Lake, and with the president's busy visit that also includes a trip to the Mormon temple.

Bears Ears is considered one of the most culturally important lands in the southwestern United States. Its famous red rock canyon country is dense with ancient artifacts, cliff dwellings and sacred cemeteries. Just a couple of years ago, part of the land was proposed for additional federal protections, but a bill backed by Republicans from the Utah House of Representatives stalled in Congress. Then, last year, the Obama administration held meetings in the region before declaring it a national monument in late December under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Republicans in Congress have proposed changes to the act, originally intended to protect against the looting of ancient public land artifacts, to make it difficult for presidents to use it as a means to create large national monuments.

As for Trump, the law is gray when a president can reduce or abolish a large monument. Legal experts say that historically it has been the role of Congress. Meanwhile, sixteen presidents have used the Antiquities Law to create public land monuments.

Environmentalists fear that the impending decision could set a precedent for future presidents to resolve protections on federal lands.

"There are many things that could not survive in the next couple of years ago, but our legacy of public lands is certainly on the edge of the cliff here," said Matthew Koehler of the WildWest Institute.

Several environmental groups and tribes have already announced that they plan to sue following Monday's announcements.

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