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REACTIONS: Pro and Con statements following Trump's designation of smaller monuments

President Donald Trump signs proclamations scaling down two Utah monuments. (Photo: Larry D. Curtis / KUTV)

(KUTV) - At the conclusion of President Donald Trump's signature of two proclamations that cut federally protected land in Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, several official statements were released. Some of the statements support Trump's proclamations that scaled down the monuments while others were vehemently against the land shrinkage. Some of those statements are listed below:

PRO STATEMENTS

Senator Orrin Hatch:
“With today’s executive order, President Trump has given Utahns a voice in the protection of public lands,” Hatch said. “This historic proclamation marks a new beginning in the way national monuments are created, allowing for greater local input. Most important, the President’s action restores the actual letter and intent of the Antiquities Act, which calls for the ‘smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’”

Senator Mike Lee:
“President Trump did the people of Utah a great favor today by rolling back harmful land use restrictions in southern Utah,” Sen. Lee said. “The president has done his part and now it is time for Congress to act to protect the people of Utah from federal overreach in the future. That is why I will be introducing legislation later this week that would give Utah similar protections from Antiquities Act abuse that the states of Wyoming and Alaska currently enjoy.”

Representative Chris Stewart
“The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument resides in my district. I have seen firsthand the damage that the monument has caused to the local economy. My constituents have been in a desperate need of change, and today President Trump delivered.”

“President Trump had the courage that no other president had. He listened to local voices that had been left out of the decision-making process for too long. On behalf of the county commissioners, the state legislators who represent the area, and the entire federal delegation, we say thank you, Mr. President.”

Representative Rob Bishop:
“I applaud President Trump for recognizing the limitations of the law. Americans of all political stripes should commend him for reversing prior administrations' abuses of the Antiquities Act and instead exercising his powers within the scope of authority granted by Congress.

"These new proclamations are a first step towards protecting identified antiquities without disenfranchising the local people who work and manage these areas. The next steps will be to move beyond symbolic gestures of protection and create substantive protections and enforcement and codify in law a meaningful management role for local governments, tribes and other stakeholders.”

Representative John Curtis:
“I am grateful to President for coming to Utah to help us resolve this important issue,” Rep. Curtis said. “Now that the President has created two new monuments in my congressional district, the time has come for congress to ensure that these sites are managed the right way. In the coming days, I look forward to introducing legislation to ensure we are just doing that.”

Americans for Prosperity Vice President of External Affairs, Chrissy Harbin:
“Previous administrations abused their power under the Antiquities Act in order to keep land off limits. President Trump and Secretary Zinke’s actions in reviewing and resizing past administration’s monument designations is a welcome step in reducing government overreach. We will continue to work with lawmakers in Congress and the Department of Interior to prioritize conservation efforts, encourage sustainable economic development, and empower the voice of local communities.”

Americans for Prosperity-Utah’s State Director, Evelyn Everton:
“President Trump’s decision to resize these national monuments after historic federal land seizures is a huge victory for the state of Utah. With over $18 billion of maintenance work needed on federal lands managed by federal agencies, the federal government has proven to be a poor caretaker of federal lands. We applaud the Trump administration’s actions in ensuring local economies that depend on the land’s resources will not be harmed and important historic objects and sites at national monuments will be protected. This will increase economic competitiveness, especially in rural parts of the state."

CON STATEMENTS

Utah House and Senate Democrats:
"The thoughtless actions taken by President Trump are unprecedented and illegal. They are a gift to those who wish to exploit Utah’s natural treasures, and an insult to the Native American tribes who have worked so hard to ensure that their sacred lands are protected from those who would pillage their artifacts and ruin their beauty. Their voices have never truly been heard by this administration or by our state delegation. The overwhelming majority of Native Americans have repeatedly shown their support for the Bears Ears Monument from the beginning. This decision will also hurt tourism and economic vitality for the many Utahns who built their small businesses around Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

"This type of policy making, undertaken merely to undermine the actions taken by the previous administration, is no way to govern. These actions are extremely divisive. Rather than bringing people together to work towards a collaborative land management plan for these national monuments, President Trump has chosen to unilaterally shatter these majestic areas in reckless ways that remove protection from the most beautiful, culturally significant, and scientifically important lands in our state. This action is shameful, petty, and demonstrates an utter failure of leadership."

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred (Mexican Water, Aneth, Teecnospos, Tóikan, Red Mesa):
“Navajo people have advocated for protection of the Bears Ears for decades, and continue to use and value the land for their livelihoods and cultural practices. This monument represents part of our history and our future. Navajo Nation has been consistent in our message – we support the 1.35 million acre monument designation.

“Bears Ears has protected Navajo people in the past, and now we must protect it. Navajo Nation will continue to work with the Hopi, Zuni, Ute Indian, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes to fight for our ancestral lands and permanently protect this landscape. This decision disrespects Native Americans across the country by acting against the Antiquities Act, which has been used countless times since 1906 to protect Native American heritage. Navajo Nation will be filing a legal challenge to President Trump’s decision and we will not back down."

Earthjustice's Managing Attorney of the Rocky Mountains Office, Heidi McIntosh:
“President Trump has perpetrated a terrible violation of America’s public lands and heritage by going after this dinosaur treasure trove. While past presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect unique lands and cultural sites in America, Trump is instead mangling the law, opening this national monument to coal mining instead of protecting its scientific, historic, and wild heritage. We will not let this stand. We will use the power of the law to stop Trump’s illegal actions.”

Center for Biological Diversity Public Lands Program Director, Randi Spivak:
“Trump’s unprecedented, illegal action is a brutal blow to our public lands, an affront to Native Americans and a disgrace to the presidency,” said , public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “He wants to hand over these lands to private industry to mine, frack, bulldoze and clear-cut until there's nothing left for our children and grandchildren.”

Sierra Club Utah Chapter Director, Ashley Soltysiak:
"The Antiquities Act does not give the President the legal authority to eliminate or reduce a national monument-- a power exclusively delegated to the U.S. Congress. This is yet another pathetic example of Trump’s continued abuse of power in support of special interests.

“This action is an unacceptable affront to the Tribal Nations who came together to protect the sacred lands of the Bears Ears National Monument.

“In 1998, Grand Staircase-Escalante was amenable to a land exchange for mineral extraction; it appears that it did not satiate special interests’ greed. Over the last twenty-six years, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and its gateway communities built up its economy through tourism. Replacing recreational landscapes with drilling pads, machinery, and public restriction stands to devastate thriving and emerging businesses and the people they support.

The national monument review and this most recent action to effectively eliminate these places in Utah is disgrace to our democracy. ”

Executive Director of Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, Nicole Croft:
“For over 20 years, countless volunteers from the community, business owners, schools kids, youth corps members, ranchers, scientists, historians and professional land managers have worked hand in hand to make this national monument a success and a critical economic engine for southern Utah. The Grand Staircase Escalante-National Monument is intricately woven into the fabric of our communities. This arbitrary review and illegal action will not go unchallenged.

“National monuments like Grand Staircase-Escalante help define who we are as a nation and as Utahns. Millions of people from all over the world have come to explore the Grand Staircase-Escalante and few leave unchanged. The dramatic landscapes, the visible history of the earth through stunning geology, the frontier experience of quietly exploring a canyon or bend of the Escalante river allow one to feel that they may be the first to ever behold such wild beauty. The experience of exploration, wonder and humility at the grandeur of the natural world is one our children, and their children deserve, and that is what this administration is trying to rob from our future."

Western Watersheds Project Executive Director Erik Molvar:
“This effort to open up our national monuments to looting for private profit cannot be allowed to stand. America is getting fed up with politically connected good-old-boys and their cronies in Washington who think they can pillage and plunder the national treasures of our public lands. These National Monuments are the priceless inheritance of our grandchildren, and are sacred to the Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, and Ute peoples. They deserve sound stewardship and protection, and their fragile and spectacular public lands and the natural communities they support must be shielded from the ravages of industrial use and commercial exploitation. We’re fighters, and we won’t stand for these attacks on National Monuments, and neither will the voting public.”

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