President Donald Trump is expected to significantly downsize two sprawling Utah national monuments that protect more than 3 million acres of the state’s red rock country, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office said Tuesday.
Ron Dean, Hatch’s Central and Eastern Utah Director, testified during a meeting in Utah of a state legislative public lands committee that he expects Bears Ears National Monument will be cut by at least 80 percent of its current size, while Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will be reduced by about 40 percent to 60 percent.
Trump told Hatch and Utah’s governor last month that he would follow the recommendation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and shrink both monuments, but the White House and Zinke’s office have not offered details about how they’d redraw the monument boundaries.
Dean said Tuesday that while he hasn’t seen Zinke’s recommendations, he could speak with “some certainty” on how much of a reduction Hatch’s office expected to see.
Utah’s Republican leaders, including Hatch, have said the monuments declared by Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton unnecessarily locked up too much land and asked Trump to shrink or rescind them.
The monuments were created under a 1906 law that allows presidents to protect sites that are considered historic, geographically or culturally significant. Trump ordered Zinke to review 27 monuments created under the law, with Bears Ears the top priority.