President Donald Trump said Monday that he’ll shrink two national monuments in Utah that contain stunning red-sandstone vistas, historic relics and energy resources, arguing his predecessor overstepped in protecting the land.
Trump traveled to Salt Lake City for the announcement, and also met with leaders of the Mormon Church. He was accompanied on Air Force One by Utah Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, who is contemplating whether to run for re-election next year when he’ll turn 84.
“Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” Trump said. “They’re wrong. The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best, and you know the best how to take care of your land.”
Trump’s decision scales back the 1.4-million-acre Bears Ears to about 220,000 acres, and the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument to about 1 million acres, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters aboard Air Force One on Monday.
That’s an even more dramatic reduction than had been expected after an Interior Department review of recently designated sites.
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