President Trump and Secretary Zinke Announce Modification to Utah Monuments, Resulting in 5 Unique National Monument Units Totaling More Than 1.2 Million Acres
Modifications protect paleontological resources, Native American artifacts and other objects of historic or scientific interest while restoring traditional use and access to public lands
Date: December 4, 2017
SALT LAKE CITY – Acting upon the recommendation of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, and with the support of Utah’s governor, Congressional delegation, local officials, and residents, President Donald J. Trump today signed proclamations to adjust the boundaries and management of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). The proclamations modify the boundaries of those monuments and result in five unique monument units within the two monuments which protect important objects of historical and scientific interest.
“No one values the splendor of Utah more than the people of Utah – and no one knows better how to use it. Families will hike and hunt on land they have known for generations, and they will preserve it for generations to come.” said President Donald J. Trump. “The Antiquities Act does not give the Federal Government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice. Public lands will once again be for public use.”
“I thank President Trump for his leadership on the Monument Review and for keeping his promise to make sure the rural voice is heard once again,” said Secretary Zinke. “As I visited the Monuments in Utah, I met with Americans on all sides of the issue — from ranchers to conservationists to tribal leaders — and found that we agree on wanting to protect our heritage while still allowing public access to public land. The people of Utah overwhelmingly voiced to us that public land should be protected not for the special interests, but for the citizens of our great country who use them, and this is what President Trump is doing today. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase will remain under federal protection, will adhere to the spirit and letter of the Antiquities Act, and — even after our modification — combined will still be nearly twice the size of Rhode Island.”
“By acting on Secretary Zinke’s thoughtful recommendations, President Trump has restored balance to our public lands discussion,” said Governor Gary Herbert of Utah. “We are pleased that Utahns once again have a voice in the process of determining appropriate uses of these public lands that we love. By reducing these super-sized monuments to a size consistent with the intent of the law, new doors of dialogue have opened up that will allow thoughtful, long-term protection of these federal lands. Federal, state, local and tribal officials can now convene to craft legislation for appropriate special protections and responsible recreational uses.”
“Thank you Secretary Zinke, for coming to San Juan, Kane, and Garfield counties and listening to the local grassroots people. Your boots on the ground approach was unexpected, but well received and appreciated,” said San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally. “Thank you Senator Hatch. You and your staff have been champions for us. Thank you for never giving up. For believing we could rectify a wrong and for being a fighter for San Juan County and our people. Thank you President Trump. Thank you for not being a typical politician and passing us over. Thank you for caring about San Juan County. We may be only 15,000 strong, but we matter. We appreciate you willing to take the backlash from the special interest groups as you stand for the people and the economy of San Juan County.”
“I’m thrilled and grateful to President Trump and Secretary Zinke for giving Utahns a voice in the protection of federal lands in Utah,” said Senator Orrin Hatch. “The President’s proclamation represents a balanced solution and a win for everyone on all sides of this issue. It also represents a new beginning in the way national monuments are designated, paving the way for more local input, and taking into account the actual letter and intent of the Antiquities Act, which calls for the ‘smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.'”
Bears Ears National Monument: The BENM will now encompass two monument units, Shash Jáa and Indian Creek, which will continue to be jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. Shash Jáa is approximately 129,980 acres and Indian Creek is approximately 71,896 acres. Collectively, at approximately 201,876 acres in size, Bears Ears remains larger than Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park combined. The new proclamation allows for increased public access to the land and restores traditional use allowance for activities like cattle grazing and motorized recreation, and tribal collection of wood and herbs. Objects that remain within monument boundaries include: the “Bears Ears” buttes, Lime Ridge Clovis Site, Moon House Ruin, Doll House Ruin, Indian Creek Rock Art, and Newspaper Rock. The federal lands excluded from the monument will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service.
In addition, the President’s proclamation provides that the Bears Ears Commission will provide guidance and recommendations for the Shash Jáa unit of the monument and will be expanded to include a Native American San Juan County Commissioner elected by the majority-Native American voting district in that County. The President and Secretary will also request that Congress formally allocate Tribal co-management of the monument.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: The GSENM will now consist of three distinct monument units, the “Grand Staircase” (209,993 acres), “Kaiparowits” (551,034 acres), and “Escalante Canyons” (242,836 acres), and all three will be managed by the BLM. The three new monument areas collectively total 1,003,863 acres, which is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. The federal lands not included in the new monuments will continue to be managed by the BLM.
In the 20 years since designation of the GSENM, the objects identified by the proclamation have been more thoroughly examined and mapped, which offered the opportunity to examine the significance of the objects previously identified and
determine the proper size of the reservation necessary to protect those objects. The modified monument includes important objects identified in the original designation, including those areas with the highest concentration of fossil resources, important landscape features such as the Grand Staircase, Upper Paria Canyon System, Kaiparowits Plateau, Escalante Natural Bridge, Upper Escalante Canyons, East Kaibab Monocline, Grosvenor Arch, Old Paria Townsite, Dance Hall Rock, and relict plant communities such as No Mans Mesa.
FACT VS FICTION: Antiquities Act and Monument Review
Myth: No president has shrunk a monument.
False: Monuments have been reduced at least eighteen times under presidents on both sides of the aisle. Some examples include President John F. Kennedy excluding Bandelier National Monument, Presidents Taft, Wilson, and Coolidge reducing Mount Olympus National Monument, and President Eisenhower reducing the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado.
Myth: The monument review will sell/transfer public lands to states.
False: This is not true. The Secretary adamantly opposes the wholesale sale or transfer of public lands. The Antiquities Act only allows Federal land to be reserved as a national monument. Therefore, if any monument is reduced, the land would remain federally owned and would be managed by the appropriate Federal land management agency, such as the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the National Park Service (NPS).
Myth: Removing the monument designation from land will leave Native American artifacts and paleontological objects subject to looting or desecration.
False: This is not true. Whether these resources are found on land designated as a monument, national forest, BLM- managed public land, or other federal land, it is generally illegal to remove or disrupt these resources without a permit issued by the federal government.
Myth: The monument review will close/sell/transfer national parks.
False: No national parks are under review.
Myth: The review was done without meeting advocates for national monuments.
False: The Secretary visited eight monuments in six states and personally hosted more than 60 meetings attended by hundreds of local stakeholders. Attendees included individuals and organizations representing all sides of the debate ranging from environmental organizations like the Wilderness Society and the Nature Conservancy to county commissioners and, residents, and ranchers who prefer multiple use of the land.
Myth: Tribal Nations were not consulted.
False: This is patently false. Before traveling to Utah, the Secretary met with Tribal representatives in his office. On his first day in Utah in May, the Secretary met with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition in Salt Lake City, for just under two hours. Throughout the four-day survey of the Utah monuments, the Secretary also met with local Tribal representatives who represent different sides of the debate. The Secretary also met with Tribal representatives for their input on several other monuments from Maine to New Mexico to Oregon and everywhere in between. Additionally, the Department hosted several Tribal listening sessions at the Department and across the country, including a four hour session with the Acting Deputy Secretary on May 30th.