SALT LAKE CITY – President Donald Trump is scheduled to arrive in Utah on Monday to undo two of the most controversial public lands decisions in the state's history.
Trump intends to reduce Bears Ears National Monument from 1.35 million acres to 201.397 acres and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from almost 1.9 million acres to 997.490 acres, according to documents leaked last week.
President Barack Obama created Bears Ears a year ago this year under the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law that gives the president authority to proclaim national monuments on federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features.
Former President Bill Clinton used the same law in 1996 to stun Utah residents with the designation Grand Staircase-Escalante.
What his Democratic predecessors did with the blow of a pen, Trump seems to get rid of it in the same way.
President Donald Trump hands a pen to Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, after signing an Executive Order of Antiquities during a ceremony at the Department of the Interior in Washington, on Wednesday, April 26 of 2017. The president is asking for a review of the designation of tens of millions of acres of land as "national monuments". (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)
"Finally, we have a president brave enough to face a major problem for the people of Utah," said former Utah Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, whose district included Bears Ears.
Years The dispute over the designations of national monuments in Utah has brought Trump to the point of what the Center for Western Priorities says would be the largest removal of protections for public lands and wildlife in the history of the United States.
How Utah came decades ago.
A victory or a slap?
Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, has been a driving force behind Trump to reduce the size of the monuments and bring him to Utah to make the announcement. The seven-term senator, along with the Utah Republican delegation, persecuted Trump since taking office to do something with Bears Ears.
Trump gave credit to Hatch for his decision to make a new monument proclamation during a phone call last month. , "I approve Bears Ears recommendation for you, Orrin."
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke poses for photos with people who want the Bears Ears National Monument to be canceled during a rally in Blanding on Monday, May 8, 2017.
Republicans from Utah and many leaders and residents of southern Utah praise Trump's decision to do the right thing for state rights, and in the case of Grand Staircase-Escalante, a long time ago.
"I think the result you plan to announce has an excellent balance in which everyone wins," said Hatch.
"The details of the president's announcement are his and hers alone, but I appreciate your willingness to listen to my advice and, most importantly, to give the people of Utah a voice in this process."
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Paul and Lieslie Williams, of New Harmony, join other supporters of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to sing "talk to us" to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke at Kanab airport on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.
The Democrats, Native American tribes and environmental groups consider the move illegal and a slap in the face. Many organizations plan to sue the government for the decision, which could entangle the matter in court for months, if not years.
"This is striking a blow to the tribes and locals who worked for years to make Bears Ears come true." Reducing the monuments is culturally and economically damaging to the local government, tribes and communities that count on the support of the monuments, "said Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, Ute Mountain Ute and former president of the Inter-Tribal Coalition of Bears Ears.
Trump issued an executive order in April calling for a review of the designations of national monuments in the last 21 years and promised to end the "abuses" of the Antiquities Act.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke toured the Bears Ears area in May on foot, helicopter and on horseback before turning his attention to Grand Staircase-Escalante as part of Trump's order.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke rides a horse in the new Bears Ears National Monument near Blanding. Zinke is recommending that six of the 27 national monuments under review by the Trump administration be reduced in size, along with management changes at several other sites. A leaked note from Zinke to President Donald Trump recommends reducing two Utah monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, along with Gold Butte of Nevada and Cascade-Siskiyou of Oregon
A leaked copy of Zinke's memo to Trump In September detailed a list of recommendations for 10 monuments throughout the country, including revisions of limits for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. More filtered maps gave an idea of the scope of the reductions that the president is contemplating.
Regardless of what Trump does, Chaffetz said the Bureau of Land Management will continue to oversee the areas.
"These lands had federal protection before and they will have them later, these were BLM lands and they will return to the lands of BLM," he said.
The issue, which lies at the heart of the debate over public lands, is how to manage the large amounts of open space – about two-thirds of which is federal territory – in Utah.
Politics & # 39; Gotcha & # 39;
Rep. Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah, tracks the protracted battle over national monuments to the law that President Teddy Roosevelt enacted nearly 112 years ago.
"Most presidents have used the Antiquities Law in moderation, and although there were complaints about it, it did not have much traction," he said.
But then-President Jimmy Carter used it to "ruin" Alaska, Clinton made it a "big time" for political ends, including Grand Staircase-Escalante and Obama became "totally mad" when designating monuments as he left for the door, said Bishop.
Bishop said that both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante were hatched under the Antiquities Act to avoid environmental impact studies and public hearings that would otherwise have been required.
Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press
ARCHIVE – This file photo of May 30, 1997 shows the varied terrain of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Boulder, Utah.
the case of Grand Sta ircase-Escalante, cited emails from the Clinton administration that said the area deserved less protection than others, but the boundaries would help subvert the laws of Utah Republicans that would protect less wilderness areas the ones that the environmentalists were looking for.
"They have to be done secretly and come out as a lost moment for the president," he said.
Delegation & # 39; Failed & # 39;
Scott Groene, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said there is an ongoing debate about the fate of the state's public lands. On the one hand, he said, many, if not most, Utah residents see tremendous value in the land. On the other hand, there is a small number of rural politicians from whom the Utah Congress delegation takes their orders.
Clinton and Obama had to intervene under the Antiquities Act because the delegation "failed completely" for years to approve any kind of wildlife bill, including Bishop's Public Land Initiative, Groene said. Obama, he said, waited until the last minute in Bears Ears to give the legislation a shot.
Groene said that Trump's decision to reduce the size of a national monument that has existed for more than 20 years shows its "radical nature."
"Trump is an anomaly in all this, largely because he is an erratic president and therefore it is possible to have this extreme action that not even George W. Bush would have contemplated," he said.
Groene predicts that the courts will revoke the president's decision. But in the meantime, it undermines Utah's reputation nationally, puts the land at risk and perpetuates a long history of racism toward Native Americans.
Chaffetz said the "overreach" of Obama and Clinton opened the door for Trump to behave. He said he does not think Utah is at this point if Bears Ears were more modest.
Obama said he was "really abusing" the Antiquities Law and refused to meet with the state congressional delegation on the subject. .
Trump, however, has been all ears.
Chaffetz said a convincing factor for the president was the lack of monumental support among local leaders.
"There was not a single elected official in Utah who represented the area that was in favor of that," said Chaffetz, now a Fox News contributor.
Bishop said the problem with the proclamations of presidential monuments is that they come with no more details than lines on a map.
"Everything is in the air," he said. "No one really knows what the hell is going on."
The congressman said he does not want to eliminate the Antiquities Law, but proposes that it include environmental impact studies and local acceptance as part of the process.
"That's the way it should be done so that you can solve these problems ahead of time." None of them can be done that way, so it should always come as a surprise, and nobody knows what the lines are before that really is announced, "Bishop said
Clinton and coal
Despite repeated appeals-including some in the middle of the night-from Utah officials to defer them, Clinton announced the National Monument Grand Staircase in September 1996. State leaders called for purely political action, saying that Clinton needed the green vote and environmental money to win re-election.
Deseret News Archives
President Bill Clinton signs an order in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona to designate a vast Utah territory, including the Grand Escalante Staircase, a national monument on September 18, 1996, while the vice president Al Gore observes.
Clinton, who had not set foot in the state since finishing third in Utah in the 1992 presidential race, made an announcement from south of the Utah border – in the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Local politicians and residents fumed that Clinton did not consult them and issued their proclamation to please environmentalists by killing the potential exploitation of coal within the boundaries of the monument.
Now, Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams says Trump is leaning against special interests, including oil and mining companies, with his decision to reduce the monuments.
The Kaiparowits plateau, apparently now outside the Grand Staircase-Escalante limit, redesigned according to filtered maps, has one of the most coveted coal reserves in the world.
Groene said it would be a "terrible bet" for coal there today, although Trump expects my "If Trump tries to make that claim, he just tries to strengthen his credentials to recover the coal, but it will not happen", He said.
Chaffetz said that although he would like to see the area open to mining, he said he would take an act from Congress, which he does not see taking place. But, he said, Trump's decision is more about multiple use than opening the land to the extraction of natural resources.
"I think the main driver was broader access to public lands than energy development," he said.
Actor Robert Redford, author Terry Tempest Williams and former Utah first lady Norma Matheson were the only Utahns onstage with Clinton for the monument's announcement in 1996. Redford told Deseret News at the time that the region it belongs to all Americans, not "in the pockets of politicians."
Supporters of the Bears Ears National Monument make the same argument today.
Mary McGann, vice president of the Grand County Council, said it is not a decision that depends solely on local officials because federal lands belong to everyone. He noted that most public comments to the Department of the Interior favor the monument.
Although the reaction against Grand Staircase-Escalante was fierce among southern Utah residents – a Kanab company owner hung Clinton in effigy – many were enthusiastic about the monument.
Ashley Korenblat, owner of Western Spirit Cycling in Moab, said that Utah's national parks and monuments are in high demand among tourists, and gateway communities are thriving. The reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase does not make economic sense, he said.
"It's just not a big business decision," said Korenblat.
While the surprise Grand The Staircase-Escalante designation caused a huge protest in the state 21 years ago, the Battle of Bears Ears has been played much more publicly.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell makes a stop at Newspaper Rock during her visit to Canyon Country in southern Utah on Thursday, July 14, 2016.
controversy of the monument heating up in the summer of 2016, then Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell toured the Bears Ears region and met with supporters of the Native American Monument and San Juan County leaders who oppose its creation.
Six months later, Obama declared it a national monument.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visits old cliff dwellings at McLloyd Canyo n near Blanding in southern Utah on Friday, July 15, 2016.
One Legislature Utah, outraged and controlled by Republicans, overwhelmingly condemned the action and urged that it be undone last February. Outdoor retail organizations followed short-term plans to end the fair's 20-year relationship with the state by the frustration of the industry with efforts to unravel the designation of the monument.
In April, Trump signed an executive order calling for a review of monuments created under the Antiquities Act for the past 21 years. He promised "to put an end to these abuses and return control to the people, to the people of Utah, to the people of every state, to the people of the United States."
In June, Zinke recommended that the limits of the Bears Ears be revised; that the president request the authority of Congress to allow tribal co-management of designated cultural areas within the revised boundaries; that Congress make more appropriate conservation designations within the current monument's footprint, such as national recreation areas or national conservation areas; and that the Congress clarify the intention of the management practices of the study areas of wilderness areas within the monument.