By Juliet Fusco 12/5/17
President Trump plans to reduce the size of two national monuments representing the culture and history in Utah. Trump, making the announcement at the State Capital in Salt Lake City, said that protections of the land will be reversed and a 201,876-acre reduction of the Bears Ears and 1.9-million-acre reduction of the Grand Staircase-Escalante will occur.
Gaining large Republican support, Trump justified the decision by stating that the scale back will grant citizens with public usage rights to the land. The land was preserved and protected by the Antiquities Act during previous Democratic presidential terms. Now, drillers and miners who were once restricted, laud the new decision that will open up employment opportunities.
However, many believe that the decision disregards the preservation of the lands’ rich ancient history. As a result, environmental groups and retail companies have voiced their opposition to the elimination of the land. The organization, Earthjustice, has condemned the decision, which will reduce land that contains numerous dinosaur fossils. The president from the clothing company, Patagonia, also criticized the reduction, calling it “the largest elimination of protected land in American History.”
Native American tribes are especially disturbed by the decision’s effect on their sacred land. The Bears Ears, for example, fosters multiple Native American artifacts, such as cliff dwellings. Many argue this is another one of Trump’s offensive actions toward the Native American community.