President Donald Trump will make a major announcement about two Utah national monuments in Salt Lake City next Monday, and The Washington Post obtained a draft document detailing his plans.
The documents leaked to WaPo on Thursday show Trump will reduce the size of the Bears Ears monument from 1.35 million acres to 201,397 acres and the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument from 1.9 million acres to 997,490 acres.
But the leaked document doesn’t detail how Trump plans to reform how national monuments are managed.
The Trump administration, and many GOP lawmakers, have criticized national monuments for eroding local economies through restrictive land use policies. Trump’s plan could also include new land management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
In April, Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review national monuments over 100,000 acres created in the last two decades. The point of the review was to see if recent monument designations constituted abuses of the Antiquities Act.
Most of the media attention around Zinke’s review has focused on how much he would shrink Bears Ears and other areas under scrutiny, but the Antiquities Act says designations should use the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management” of the monument.
It’s the “proper care and management” part that’s unclear. National monument designations put areas under stricter federal control. Republicans argue this robs rural communities of control over their own land.
Zinke told reporters earlier this year that recent monuments “were put off limits to traditional uses,” like logging and ranching.
“When you designate a monument, the local community affected should have a voice,” Zinke said. “The loggers, the fisherman, those areas that are affected should have a voice.”
Bears Ears was created by President Obama in late 2016, exciting environmentalists and Native American leaders, but angering Republicans, Utah officials and Native Americans who live along the monument’s edges.
When Obama created Bears Ears in late 2016, he put 1.35 million acres of southeastern Utah under stricter federal management. Locals feared their rights to graze livestock, hunt, fish or gather herbs and wood could be eroded overtime.
Based on these concerns, Trump’s plan for national monuments may include some reforms to make sure traditional land uses are preserved.
WaPo reported the draft document did not include specifics on how the lands would be managed, but did say the monuments are “confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects identified” by Trump.
Under the plan, Bears Ears would be shrunk, then split into two national monuments, called the Indian Creek National Monument and the Shash Jaa National Monument. Grand Staircase-Escalante, which was designated by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, would be split into three monuments.
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