Both Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments would be ripped apart based on the leaked maps. Trump made his announcement about the future of the monuments in Utah today reversing “federal overreach”, potentially opening areas to oil drilling, mining etc.
Trump signed proclamations scaling back Obama’s 1.4-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument to 220,000 acres — an 84 percent reduction — and Clinton’s 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to 1 million acres — a reduction by nearly half. It’s the largest-ever rollback of protected areas in history, environmental groups say.
Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society said, “Fortunately the law is on the side of protecting these valued lands and once again the President’s actions will be met on the courthouse steps.
It is no surprise that the Trump Administration is bowing to special interests, including the oil and mining companies, and these maps show how extreme his plans are for some of the most treasured and culturally significant lands in our nation. Despite millions of Americans demanding permanent protection for all of our national monuments, our President and Secretary Zinke have now turned their backs and instead are aligning themselves with those who want to exploit our shared lands for personal profit. Tens of thousands of Native American sacred sites in southern Utah will now be at renewed risk of looting and desecration as will vast, world-class discovered and yet-to-be-discovered paleontological resources, including some that are now threatened by the potential mining for new resources at the existing Andalex Coal Mine site.”
President Trump’s visit so far has been greeted with protestors holding signs like: “Ax Zinke Not Bears Ears” “Keep your dirty little hands off our beautiful lands” and “Protect our wild lands.”
While Utahns as a whole are not keen on Trump’s actions, the expected announcement is an especially grave insult to the Native American tribal voices who petitioned President Obama to protect Bears Ears in the first place. Tribal interests already plan a legal challenge to Trump’s decision.
Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation said, ““At the very least, President Trump should have consulted with the original local governments of the Bears Ears region: our five Indian Nations. Instead, our many requests for consultation were ignored. An action to diminish the Bears Ears National Monument in any way will be an action against the Navajo Nation and the Navajo people who have worked so tirelessly to protect these lands. Just as the Navajo Nation fought for the creation of the Monument, the Nation now stands ready to defend the full 1.35 million acre-Monument.”
To this announcement, all we can say is ‘SAD!’