WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump plans to scale back two sprawling national monuments in Utah, responding to what he has condemned as a “massive federal land grab” and an important move for “state’s rights.”
Trump is traveling to Salt Lake City on Monday to outline his intention to shrink the Bears Ears and the Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments spanning millions of acres in Utah. The two national monuments were among 27 that Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review earlier this year.
Utah’s Republican leaders, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, pressed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments declared by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton locked up too much federal land.
Trump’s plans to curtail the strict protections on the sites have angered tribes and environmentalist groups who have vowed to sue to preserve the monuments.
In December, shortly before leaving office, Obama irritated Utah Republicans by creating the Bears Ears National Monument on 1.35 million acres of land sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.
Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to conduct a review of the protections. Trump is able to upend the protections under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives the president broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use.
The president said in April his order would end “another egregious abuse of federal power” and “give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs.”