Two Democratic senators questioned if President Trump has the authority to slash two national monuments in Utah to 40 percent of their current size, and said the USDA did not recommend removing national forest land from them. Trump is expected to announce the new boundaries for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments today during a visit to Salt Lake City.
During a visit to Utah next week, President Trump will announce that he is lopping a combined 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, reducing them to 37 percent of their current size, said the Washington Post.
In an interim report to President Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah should be scaled down, without suggesting the appropriate size.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, has introduced a bill in Congress to amend the Antiquities Act, which grants U.S. presidents the right to create national monuments. Last month, President Obama designated 1.35 million acres under the act in Utah and another 300,000 acres in Nevada, bringing his total to nearly 538 million acres, more than any other president.
Last week, President Obama created the 1.3-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, bringing the total of new protected lands designated by his administration to 553 million acres. His critics are already calling on Trump to reverse the order