Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, will be reduced from almost 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1,003,863 acres (1,569 square miles).
On Monday, President Donald Trump ordered drastic reductions to Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Nearly as soon as the reduction was announced, a deluge of lawsuits were filed on behalf of many involved in that fight - including one by a coalition of 10 conservation groups, and one by a coalition of five Native American Tribes.
State officials said the protections were overly broad and closed off the area to energy development and other access. The decision comes after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted recommendations to the White House in August after his four-month long review of 27 national monuments. The move will strip almost two million collective acres from the monuments, making it the largest reduction of public lands protection in US history. "Trump.pdf" target="_blank">a lawsuit in a Washington, D.C. court on behalf of eight different organizations, alleging that in signing the proclamation, Trump "violated the 1906 Antiquities Act by stripping monument protections from this national treasure".
"Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington", Trump said in his speech.
Additional legal challenges were expected from environmental groups and outdoor clothing company Patagonia.
The monument designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 was almost 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometers).
Outside Trump's announcement Monday, roughly 3,000 protesters lined up near the state Capitol.
Environmental lobby group Friends of the Earth accused Trump and his allies of plundering resources. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee.
Zinke said: "You mean Patagonia made in China?"
Speaking in Salt Lake City Monday, Trumps said the move reverses "federal overreach" and will return control of land to local authorities and citizens.
"Everybody, I think, wants some stability and certainty about what lands are protected and what lands are open to development going forward, and to have it bounce back and forth nearly like a ping pong ball would not be helpful", Keiter says. The Act does not, however, give Trump or any other president the authority to undo, in part or in full, the designation of monuments by past presidents. And there is no language in the law that grants presidents the power to revoke or reduce them.
Tucked between existing national parks and the Navajo Nation, the monument is on land considered sacred to a coalition of tribes and is home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites.
The reasoning behind the move is to designate as protected "the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects of scientific or historic interest", and the proclamation also opens the newly public lands to "disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and location, entry, and patent under the mining laws".
Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced, though details are unclear.
Zinke also has recommended allowing logging at a newly designated monument in ME and urges more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.