Trump to order review of Bears Ears, Grand-Staircase, other national monuments

Composite image, St. George News

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Wednesday instructing the Interior Department to review national monument designations made over the past two decades.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he was grateful that Trump was moving to roll back what Hatch called “massive federal land grabs” by presidents dating to Bill Clinton. Hatch and other Utah Republicans have long lamented Clinton’s 1996 designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

“For years, I have fought every step of the way to ensure that our lands are managed by the Utahans that know them best and cherish them deeply,” Hatch said in a statement. “That’s why I’m committed to rolling back the egregious abuse of the Antiquities Act to serve far-left special interests,” including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Read more: Utah Republicans bristle at Bears Ears National Monument designation

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the president to declare federal lands of historic or scientific value to be “national monuments” and restrict how the lands can be used.

President Barack Obama infuriated Utah Republicans when he created the Bears Ears National Monument in December.

While the 1.3 million acres of land is sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings, and found support among some Native Americans, other Native Americans in San Juan County where the monument is located opposed the monument.

Read more: Utah Republicans continue stand against potential ‘midnight monument’

Obama used his power under the Antiquities Act to permanently preserve more land and water using national monument designations than any other president. The land is generally off limits to timber harvesting, mining and pipelines, and commercial development.

Republicans also objected when Obama created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine last summer on 87,500 acres of donated forestland. The expanse includes part of the Penobscot River and stunning views of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain.

Republicans have asked Trump to reverse the two designations, saying they add an unnecessary layer of federal control and could stymie commercial development.

Trump’s staff has been reviewing the decisions to determine economic impacts, whether the law was followed and whether there was appropriate consultation with local officials.

Environmental groups blasted Trump’s action.

“Utah’s national monuments are our first line of defense against the very real specter of climate change, providing resiliency to not only the species within them, but also to nearby communities,” said Jen Ujifusa, legislative director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

“President Trump and the Utah delegation should focus their energies on solving America’s challenges, rather than unraveling the solutions that are already working.”

Written by MATTHEW DALY and JILL COLVIN, Associated Press.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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  • darkgoddess April 25, 2017 at 5:25 am

    Get ready to see oil rigs as a backdrop for your panoramic photos, folks!

    • Brian April 25, 2017 at 8:22 am

      Hogwash. Both the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears were massive federal overreach and abuses of the Antiquities Act (which needs to be revised to prevent this in the future). I’m all for preserving what should be preserved, but have you ever driven through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument? Or looked at it on a map? It’s MASSIVE and the vast majority of it is just sage-brush. It had a huge negative impact on industry for Escalante and surrounding communities (ask almost anyone that is from there). For 95% of them it was devastating. 5% may have benefited (those that own gas stations and greasy spoons), but the communities have been hollowed out. Many, many were forced to move.

      I’m not opposed to either of those national monuments existing, but they should have been created with a scalpel, not a paint roller. Protect what should be protected, and keep the rest accessible.

      • mesaman April 25, 2017 at 11:15 am

        It doesn’t get much more accurate than your post, Brian. Now let’s sit back and wait for the neanderthals to object to your post.

      • comments April 25, 2017 at 11:20 am

        Oh please, Escalante was never anything but a dumpy little nothing of a town. Was it even possible for things to get worse after the monument? I think not.

      • redrock4 April 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

        So Brian, the veracity of your argument is based on what you think is worthwhile in protecting and what you heard from residents of the area? Because that’s not what the experts have said about Bear’s Ears. Google : American Treasure at Risk: How Bears Ears National Monument Stacks up to U.S. National Parks by Jenny Rowland. Also your use of the word, “accessible” suggests that Bear’s Ears is not somehow still open to exploration. Look, your line of thinking has made Utah lose money and credibility. Can I cite an example? The Outdoor Retailer Show debacle. Some estimates put the U.S. outdoor recreation industry at over 600 billion dollars. Estimates of a 50 million dollar loss have been put on losing the OR show.

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