According to The Washington Times, President Donald Trump was set to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah on Monday to announce the approval of a plan by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to drastically reduce the size of two large, legacy monuments in Utah that created under the Clinton and Obama administrations: The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the Bears Ears National Monument.
The plan, which has been in place since Spring and gaining traction since October, has already drawn protests from environmentalists and Native American activists, claiming that the cuts are illegal and an insult to Native Americans.
Conservatives, however, argue that both monuments were nothing more than a controversial use of power by the Obama administration to abuse the 1906 Antiquities Act, placing control of the land under the federal government. Although the Antiquities Act does grant power to the president to create monuments, it specifically states that they should be confined to as small an area as possible, as well as limited to “protecting specific artifacts or other items of cultural and historical significance.”
Additionally, Utah GOP Rep. Rob Bishop (UT) who serves as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee has spoken on the matter, saying, “Utah has become ground zero for politically motivated national monument designations that are excessive in size and contemptuous of peoples’ livelihoods.”
“The president has stood against prior abuses of executive power, and his administration has demonstrated a commitment to work in concert with local communities to protect unique public antiquities and objects the right way,” he added.