Trump Orders Largest National Monument Reduction In U.S. History:

Trump Orders Largest National Monument Reduction In U.S. History:

Broken Bow Arch rises from Willow Canyon in the Escalante Canyons region of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Howard Berkes/NPR

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

On a visit to Utah on Monday, President Trump announced his proclamations dramatically shrinking the size of the state’s two massive national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Taken together, Trump’s orders mark the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history.

The change has already been challenged in court by conservation groups.

The Bears Ears National Monument will go from roughly 1.3 million acres to roughly 228,000 — only about 15 percent of its original size. And Grand Staircase will be diminished by roughly half, from its nearly 1.9 million acres to about 1 million. The specific numbers were provided to reporters by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke prior to Trump’s announcement in Salt Lake City.

“No one values the splendor of Utah more than you do,” Trump told an enthusiastic crowd Monday, “and no one knows better how to use it.”

He noted that before making the decision, he had discussed it with Zinke and the state’s two GOP senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Both senators have been outspoken critics of the two national monuments — both protected under the 1906 Antiquities Act by Democratic presidents — framing them as significant federal overreach that deprives Utahans of their own land.

And Trump echoed those criticisms Monday.

“These abuses of the Antiquities Act give enormous power to faraway bureaucrats at the expense of the people who actually live here, work here and make this place their home,” Trump said.

His decision caps months of speculation and a controversial review of the boundaries of large national monuments that protect more than 100,000 acres of U.S. public land. The review, conducted by Zinke, originally looked at more than two dozen national monuments designated by presidential decree since the 1990s.

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