President Donald Trump shaved some 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments Monday, arguing it fulfills a campaign promise to listen to Americans who felt disenfranchised by previous administrations

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 are expected to go to court 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.

After the Trump administration’s decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah today, U.S. Sen Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued the following statement:

“The president’s unprecedented and astonishing decision to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments is based on faulty information,” Wyden said. “The battle to safeguard Utah’s national monuments for all Americans to enjoy will continue in the courtroom. The fight must continue to protect our public lands across the country, including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon, from Trump’s and Zinke’s erratic and destructive agenda to restrict access to lands that belong to all Americans in order to benefit large corporations and donors.”

What possible reason could there be for cutting the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half and reducing the new Bears Ears National Monument to two small slivers of the land preserved just last year by your predecessor?

The land is owned by the federal government and held in trust for, legally, all the people of the United States and, morally, all the people of the world. Much of it is possessed of remarkable natural beauty and, especially in the case of Bears Ears, is held sacred by the Navajo and other Native American nations. Taking back the prize that those native peoples worked on, so long and so hard, will of course be seen as nothing more than a gratuitous slap in their face.

In the 20 years of its existence, meanwhile, Grand Staircase has inspired the growth of numerous small businesses that have have come to thrive by serving the many tourists who journey there from around the globe. Changing the status quo that those livelihoods have been based on serves no purpose.

We know what you have been told about these monuments and their history. Some of it is true.

Zinke is recommending that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of acres of land revered for natural beauty and historical significance to mining, logging and other development.

The Interior Secretary's plan would scale back Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou. The monument encompass more than 112,000-acres.

No president has tried to reverse a national monument designation.

There’s reason to doubt that doing so would be legal.

We are disappointed by this decision. The thought of reversing protections on even part of this pristine land is short-sighted, indeed. 

— Information from the Salt Lake Tribune contributed to this editorial.

After the Trump administration’s decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah today, U.S. Sen Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued the following statement:

 

“The president’s unprecedented and astonishing decision to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments is based on faulty information,” Wyden said. “The battle to safeguard Utah’s national monuments for all Americans to enjoy will continue in the courtroom. The fight must continue to protect our public lands across the country, including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon, from Trump’s and Zinke’s erratic and destructive agenda to restrict access to lands that belong to all Americans in order to benefit large corporations and donors.”

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