President Donald Trump intends to reduce the size of the Bear Ears National Monument in Utah, a sacred site for Native Americans.
The 1.3 million-acre site was established as a monument during the end of the Obama administration. It conserves a number of Native American artifacts in southern Utah, including Pueblo and Navajo tribes, with more than 100,000 archaeological sites inside the monument area.
Former President Obama’s decision to make Bears Ears a monument upset many conservatives who took the step toward conservation as an example of federal government overreach. The area had been the site of looting by nearby residents seeking to sell Native American artifacts and vandalism for many years. People disturbed ancient remains and attempted to cut rock art from the cliff walls.
According to The Hill, Trump had reviewed the matter with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who recommended the size reduction. Trump then notified Utah Senator Orrin Hatch of his decision to take Zinke’s advice, noting he would be in Utah in December to make the announcement. Hatch, a Republican, said he was “incredibly grateful” for the decision.
In the past, Hatch has referred to environmentalists as “real screamers” and “radical.”
Per Zinke’s recommendation, Trump will also reduce the size of Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. If he follows through, Trump will be the first president to ever shrink a national monument under the Antiquities Act.
In addition to indigenous resistance, the move is expected to face significant opposition from environmental and outdoor groups — some of which are promising legal action.
— Protect Bears Ears (@savebearsears) October 27, 2017
BREAKING: Trump tells Sen. Hatch that he’ll shrink Utah’s Bears Ears Nat. Monument. We will fight this in court. https://t.co/vNfZIIbSIs
— NRDC (@NRDC) October 27, 2017