clear
Tuesday July 17th, 2018 3:42AM

Trump takes rare step to reduce 2 national monuments in Utah

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday took the rare step of scaling back two sprawling national monuments in Utah, declaring that "public lands will once again be for public use" in a move cheered by Republican leaders who lobbied him to undo protections they considered overly broad.

The decision marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections. Tribal and environmental groups oppose the decision and began filing lawsuits Monday in a bid to stop Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Trump made the plan official during a speech at the State Capitol, where he signed proclamations to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Both monuments encompass millions of acres of land.

State officials said the protections were overly broad and closed off the area to energy development and other access.

Environmental and tribal groups say the designations are needed to protect important archaeological and cultural resources, especially the more than 1.3 million-acre (2,030-square-mile) Bears Ears site featuring thousands of Native American artifacts, including ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

Trump argued that the people of Utah know best how to care for their land.

"Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington," Trump said. "And guess what? They're wrong."

Roughly 3,000 demonstrators lined up near the State Capitol to protest Trump's announcement. Some held signs that said, "Keep your tiny hands off our public lands," and they chanted, "Lock him up!" A smaller group gathered in support, including some who said they favor potential drilling or mining there that could create jobs. Bears Ears has no oil or gas, Zinke told reporters, though Grand Staircase-Escalante has coal.

"Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away," Trump said. "I've come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens."

Bears Ears, created last December by President Barack Obama, will be reduced by about 85 percent, to 201,876 acres (315 square miles).

Grand Staircase-Escalante, designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, will be reduced from nearly 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1,003,863 acres (1,569 square miles).

Both were among a group of 27 monuments that Trump ordered Zinke to review this year.

Zinke accompanied Trump aboard Air Force One, as did Utah's Republican U.S. senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Hatch and other Utah Republican leaders pushed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land.

Trump framed the decision as returning power to the state, saying, "You know and love this land the best and you know the best how to take care of your land." He said the decision would "give back your voice."

"Public lands will once again be for public use," Trump said to cheers.

Hatch, who introduced Trump, said that when "you talk, this president listens" and that Trump promised to help him with "federal overreach."

Earthjustice filed the first of several expected lawsuits Monday, calling the reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante an abuse of the president's power that jeopardizes a "Dinosaur Shangri-la" full of fossils. Some of the dinosaur fossils sit on a plateau that is home to one of the country's largest known coal reserves, which could now be open to mining. The organization is representing eight conservation groups.

Native American leaders said they expect to file a lawsuit challenging the Bears Ears decision soon.

Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said the outdoor-apparel company will join an expected court fight against the monument reduction, which she described as the "largest elimination of protected land in American history."

No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have reduced or redrawn the boundaries on 18 occasions, according to the National Park Service. The most recent instance came in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy slightly downsized Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

Trump's move against Bears Ears, covering lands considered sacred to tribes that long pushed for protections, marks his latest affront to Native Americans.

Trump overrode tribal objections to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. He also used a White House event honoring Navajo Code Talkers to take a political jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat he has nicknamed "Pocahontas" for her claim to have Native American heritage.

"One week ago today, our Code Talkers were disrespected. And one week later, we get this," said Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez, referring to the monuments.

Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to review the protections, which Trump is able to upend under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law gives presidents broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use.

Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced in size, though details remain unclear. The former Montana congressman's plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

Democrats and environmentalists accuse Trump and Zinke of engaging in a secretive process aimed at helping industry groups that have donated to Republican political campaigns.

___

Superville reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Brady McCombs, Michelle L. Price and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ex-Illinois Rep. John Anderson, who ran for president, dies
Family: Longtime Illinois Congressman John Anderson, who ran for president as an independent in 1980, has died at age 95
5:11PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Trump takes rare step to reduce 2 national monuments in Utah
President Donald Trump has taken the rare step of scaling back two sprawling national monuments in Utah
5:11PM ( 5 minutes ago )
1963 church bombing echoes throughout Alabama Senate race
A deadly act of racism is echoing in Alabama's U.S. Senate race, as the Democratic nominee touts his role in the prosecution of two one-time Ku Klux Klansmen
4:58PM ( 18 minutes ago )
U.S. News
High court hints it could side with state on sports betting
The Supreme Court is indicating a willingness to side with New Jersey's effort to permit sports gambling in a case being closely watched by states interested in allowing betting on sports
4:54PM ( 22 minutes ago )
'House of Cards' to resume taping minus star Kevin Spacey
Production is resuming will resume next year on "House of Cards" for the show's sixth and final season
4:52PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Lawsuit: Political donors paid settlement for former speaker
Spokeswoman for Kentucky House Republicans says in lawsuit that former GOP speaker had sexual relationship with woman in his office and used money from political donors to help pay her a settlement
4:51PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Malta announces 10 arrests in journalist's car bomb killing
Official in Malta have announced the arrest of 10 Maltese suspects over the car bomb slaying of a prominent investigative journalist, about six weeks after the assassination that shocked Malta and drew European Union pressure to ensure rule of law here
4:18PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Facebook's Sandberg warns of backlash against women
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg is calling for systemic, lasting changes to combat workplace sexual harassment
3:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
In shift away from austerity, euro countries pick new leader
Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno has won the race to become the top official of the 19-country eurozone, the body which has been at the forefront of the single currency bloc's crisis-fighting efforts in the past few years.
3:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
10 Things to Know for Today
Among 10 Things to Know: Trump takes to Twitter to criticize FBI, special prosecutor; Stealth jets, other aircraft fly in US, South Korean drills; CVS-Aetna deal may mean more services
5:58AM ( 11 hours ago )
Sanofi says it is cooperating with gov't on dengue vaccine
Sanofi says it is cooperating with Philippine authorities on suspended dengue vaccine
4:25AM ( 12 hours ago )
Beyond Rx? CVS Health-Aetna deal may mean more services
Drugstore giant CVS Health is buying the health insurer Aetna in order to push much deeper into customer care.
4:12AM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
The Latest: Trump gets glimpse of New York protesters
Trump gets a glimpse of protesters as he visits New York and takes victory lap at fundraisers after Senate passes tax overhaul
12:24PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Trump takes victory lap in New York
Trump takes a victory lap at New York fundraiser after Senate passes tax overhaul
11:38AM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Trump aims to make tax plan law before Christmas
Trump aims to sign big tax plan into law before Christmas
11:22AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Ex-Illinois Rep. John Anderson, who ran for president, dies
Family: Longtime Illinois Congressman John Anderson, who ran for president as an independent in 1980, has died at age 95
5:11PM ( 5 minutes ago )
1963 church bombing echoes throughout Alabama Senate race
A deadly act of racism is echoing in Alabama's U.S. Senate race, as the Democratic nominee touts his role in the prosecution of two one-time Ku Klux Klansmen
4:58PM ( 18 minutes ago )
In wake of Weinstein, men wonder if hugging women still OK
With sexual harassment allegations being brought against some of the country's most high-profile men seemingly every day, average guys have begun to ask themselves is it still OK to hug a female colleague
4:49PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Sentencing phase begins for white ex-cop who shot black man
An attorney for a white former police officer who shot an unarmed black man to death as he fled a traffic stop in South Carolina says the officer never had any "racial animus" toward minorities
4:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Natural resources chairman lauds Trump decision
The Republican chairman of House Natural Resources Committee is applauding President Donald Trump for reversing what he called "abuses" of the Antiquities Act by former Democratic presidents
3:34PM ( 1 hour ago )