President Donald Trump plans to scrap roughly 85 percent of Bears Ears and half of Grand Staircase Escalante after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reviewed the national monuments’ designations, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
The cut would be the most drastic reduction made by a president to national monuments in the history of the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gave the U.S. chief executive the power to designate national monuments. The numbers have not been finalized, however, and may change before Trump announces the plan in Utah next week.
In an April Executive Order, Trump directed Zinke to conduct a review of national monument over 100,000 acres designated since 1996. During the signing ceremony, Trump pledged to correct the “egregious abuse of federal power.”
“Today, we are putting the states back in charge. It’s a big thing,” Trump said.
The president is planning to split both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante into several smaller monuments “confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects identified,” according to WaPo.
Bears Ears will be reduced from 1.35 million acres to 201,397 acres, and Grand Staircase Escalante shrink from about 1.9 million acres to 997,490 acres.
National monuments have been reduced before, but a legal challenge was never brought on the rare occasions. Environmentalists and conservationists against Trump’s decision have vowed to sue the administration.
“Zinke and Trump are displaying their disdain for these magnificent public lands and the millions of people who demanded they remain protected,” Center for Biological Diversity public lands program director Randi Spivak said after a draft of Zinke’s suggestions were leaked. “Trump has no authority to make any of the changes that Zinke’s recommending. If he tries to, we’ll see him in court.”
Bears Ears was established in at the end of 2016 by former President Barack Obama. Grand Staircase Escalante was designated decades earlier in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton.
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