- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2017

President Trump will visit Utah next week and reportedly announce his approval of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendation that two national monuments be shrunk.

Citing “sources familiar with the trip,” the Salt Lake City Tribune reported Wednesday evening that Mr. Trump will reduce the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

Mr. Trump’s Monday visit was confirmed by the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch who, along with other Utah Republican lawmakers, had been asking Mr. Trump to undo some of the unilateral designations made by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama under the federal Antiquities Act.

Those designations put those regions off-limits to energy and other development and many Western-state Republicans complained that they were made without local consultation and were an arbitrary exercise of power.

“I’m thrilled the president has accepted my invitation to come to Utah to discuss critical issues that matter to my constituents,” Mr. Hatch said in a statement.

The Tribune reported, citing Mr. Hatch’s office, that Mr. Trump told him “I’m approving the Bears Ears recommendation for you, Orrin.”

Environmentalists and Indian tribes vowed a lawsuit.

“The tribes view this as an affront to themselves and their own self-determination,” said Natalie Landreth, senior staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund. “All of us, all five tribes, will be suing jointly the day he makes an announcement.”

The five tribes that want Bears Ears kept as the Obama administration designated it are the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain, Pueblo and Ute tribes.

Both the tribes and green groups say a president has no legal ability to undo an Antiquities designation made by his predecessor, a point with which Republicans and the Trump administration disagree.

Zinke previously told The Tribune that Bears Ears, which is now 1.35 million acres, will still be larger than Zion and Bryce national parks combined, putting it somewhere north of 180,000 acres after the change. A Hatch staffer told a state legislative committee that Grand Staircase, which is about 1.9 million acres, could be trimmed by half,” the Tribune reported.

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