While he’s in Salt Lake City, the president is expected to announce he’s shrinking two national monuments.
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WASHINGTON â€” President Trump signed two proclamations Monday shrinking federally protected lands in Utah inÂ the largest rollback of federallyÂ protected lands in history.
The Bears Ears National Monument will shrink to 220,000 acres from its current 1.5 million-acreÂ size, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will be cut in half to about 1 million acres, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said.Â
Trump’s decision to roll back federal protections marks an unprecedented use of presidential power to shrink the national monument designations made by two of his predecessors.Â
Trump said previous administrations overstepped their authority in declaring vast tracts of western lands off limits to use and development,Â abusing the “purpose, spirit and intent” of a century-old law known as the Antiquities Act. That law requires presidents to limit the monument designation to “theÂ smallestÂ area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
“These abuses of the Antiquities Act give enormous power to faraway bureaucrats at the expense of people who work here, live here, and make this place their home,” Trump said at the Utah State Capital in Salt Lake City. “Because we know that people who are free to use their land and enjoy their land are the people who are most determined to preserve their land.”
Zinke hadÂ recommended that Trump vastly reduce the size of the monuments, stripping them of federal protections and instead turning over stewardship to state and tribal governments.
More: Interior report recommends that Trump downsize Bears Ears monument
More: Trump executive order could rescind national monuments
More: 24 national monuments threatened by Trump’s executive order
Ranchers,Â local governments and some tribal leaders and other residents have applauded Trump’s decision. Environmental and most tribal groups have condemned the decision and promised to fight it in court, questioning whether the president can rescind a national monument without an act of Congress.
Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, national monuments can be designated either by Congress or the president. President Barack Obama was particularly active in designating new and expanded monuments, bringing more land and water under federal protection than any president in history.
Trump signed an executive order in April asking for a review of his predecessors’ use of the to designate federal lands as national monuments. That designation can protect those lands from development, mining and drilling.Â
Zinke said his review looked at 150 monuments, with 27 getting the most scrutiny. The details of that report will be released Tuesday, he said.
Trump’s proclamations specifically targeted two monuments in Utah:
â–º Bears Ears National Monument, designated by President Barack Obama by proclamation a year ago. The monument now encompasses 1.5Â million acres in southern Utah, including the distinctive twin mesas that give the monument its name. The Bears Ears and surrounding sites are considered sacred to many American Indian tribes.
â–ºÂ Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The site in southern Utah contains a series of escalating canyons and gorges, and at 2 million acresÂ is the largest land area designated as a national monument.
With typical Trumpian flair, the president had hyped the announcement as “one of the great, really, events in this country in a long time.”
Before making the announcement at the Utah State Capital Monday afternoon, Trump is scheduled to meet with Mormon leaders of theÂ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and tour Welfare Square, the Mormon social services complex.
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If youâ€™re visiting Glacier National Park in Montana, we recommend adding Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument to your trip. Famous for its riverside cliffs, the monument spans 149 miles of the Upper Missouri River and includes six wilderness study areas. This amazing landscape has remained largely unchanged in the more than 200 years since Meriwether Lewis and William Clark traveled through it on their epic journey. Within the monument you can float the river, fish, hike, hunt, sightsee by car, find solitude, enjoy a sense of exploration in a remote setting, or simply marvel at the variety of natural beauty.Â
Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management
A stoneâ€™s throw from Saguaro National Park is the 129,000-acre Ironwood Forest National Monument. Ironwood Forest gets its name from one of the longest living trees in the Arizona desert. Keeping company with the ironwood trees are mesquite, palo verde, creosote, and saguaro — blanketing the monument floor beneath rugged mountain ranges named Silver Bell, Waterman, and Sawtooth. In between, desert valleys lay quietly to complete the setting. The national monument also contains habitat for the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl and desert bighorn sheep dwelling, which makes hiking, wildlife watching, and photography favorite activities in this desert jewel.Â
Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management