Trump takes rare step to re­duce 2 na­tional mon­u­ments in Utah

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - World -

SALT LAKE CITY — 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 Stair­caseEs­calante 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).

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