On Monday, President Trump plans to visit the state of Utah with the purpose of shrinking Bears Ears National Monument, a piece of public land that is sacred to five tribes of Native Americans.
Trump will travel to Salt Lake City to announce the modifications of boundaries of both the Bears Ears monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument. He will not visit the monuments or even stay in the city overnight.
This trip is a follow-up of Trump’s order for a full review of all national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act, going back to 1996, and is on the recommendation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Trump actually has the support of several Utah politicians to shrink, or eliminate completely, both national monuments. He faces fierce opposition from environmentalists and tribes, though, who plan to seek legal action to stop any changes.
The five tribes – the Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and the Ute Indian Tribe – that make up the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, plan to file a lawsuit immediately following the official announcement, claiming that the changes would violate the Constitution’s separation of powers.
Randy Spivak, Public Lands Program Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, says, “This illegal action will cement Trump’s legacy as one of the worst presidents in modern history. Trump has no clue how much people love these sacred and irreplaceable landscapes, but he’s about to find out. He’s shown his blatant disregard for public lands, Native Americans and the law. We look forward to seeing him in court.”
Trump plans to shrink Bears Ears monument from more than one million acres to 200,000 acres, with similar cuts to the Grand Staircase-Escalante. The land that he frees up will most likely be sold off for industrial mining and drilling.