Trump trims Bears Ears by close to 85%, cuts Grand Staircase by nearly half

Protesters gather before a visit by President Donald Trump to announce that he is scaling back two sprawling national monuments, Monday Dec. 4, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

President Trump swept into Utah on the tail end of a snowstorm and kicked up a potential firestorm over national monuments in sweeping areas of southern Utah.

His speech before a selected crowd at the Utah Capitol was not lengthy, but it was grounded in language understood by Utah conservatives.

"Some people think the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of distant bureaucrats located in Washington," said the president. "And guess what? They're wrong."

Moments later, he signed two proclamations. One trimmed the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument from about 1.9 million acres to just over a million. The other cut Bears Ears from 1.35 million acres to less than 202,000.

"You know best how to take care of your own land," he said. "You know how to protect it."

But the president did not turn over land from federal to local or state control, something some Utah leaders favor.

Big swaths cut from the monuments would still be in the federal portfolio but could mean more grazing and vehicles on roads.

Others are concerned about development on cherished lands.

2News asked a tribal leader why the monuments---both bigger than the State of Rhode Island before the president's action---needed to be so big.

He replied they were a lot bigger "before the Europeans" arrived.

But a captive audience inside the Capitol strongly supported monument downsizing.

"I thought it was a home run here in the state of Utah," said Wade Garrett, of the Utah Farm Bureau, who wore a cowboy hat to the president's appearance.

Other supporters may call it a grand slam.

Jim Crowley, donning a Fraternal Order of Police lapel pin, said: "the president listened to the people of Utah."

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off