Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Drastically Cut by Presidential Decree

©. George Frey/ Getty Images

But this won't go down without a fight.

The Bears Ears National Monument has been controversial since the day President Obama announced it; environmentalists loved it and business interests in Utah hated it. Now the current President has done what he promised, cutting Bears Ears by 85 percent, but he also cut President Clinton's monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante, by 46 percent. Trump flew to Salt Lake City to announce it:

Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington, and guess what: They're wrong. As many of you know, past administrations have severely abused the purpose, spirit, and intent of a century-old law known as the Antiquities Act.

Hardly. And it may not even be legal. While President Wilson cut a monument back in size, things have changed. According to the Washington Post:

Doug Weaver, a partner at the firm Hogan Lovells who represents the Conservation Lands Foundation, Utah Diné Bikéyah and other groups, said the “watershed” moment on this issue came with the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act. “Congress made very clear, as a matter of law, that they intend to delegate only that which has been expressly delegated in terms of management of federal lands,” he said — which would mean a president can establish a monument under the Antiquities Act but not “rescind or substantially reduce” a site, he added.


© Patagonia

This is not going down without a fight. Patagonia, which also was a big part of the battle to move the Outdoor Retailers Show, speaks for much of the recreation industry when they note that they are bigger than coal and a lot of other businesses that bring money into monuments:

Public lands host 71 percent of climbers, 70 percent of hunters and 43 percent of paddlers in America, and they also contain nearly 200,000 miles of hiking trails and 13,000 miles of mountain biking trails. Outdoor recreation is among America’s largest industries, contributing 7.6 million jobs and $887 billion in annual consumer spending— far outpacing the jobs and spending generated by the oil and gas industry.

leaving Utah

© Pat Bagley

But the State of Utah and Senator Hatch have decided what kind of State they want, and the President is happy to oblige. But as I said earlier, this is not the last we will hear about this issue.