Today, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s office will update the Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands on “potential federal actions that would affect Utah’s national monuments.” Senator Hatch’s staff had previously announced that the President intends to shrink the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, independent of any release from the White House.
The meeting will be held at the Utah State Capitol today at 9 am MST.
“The fact that we’re learning as much about the President’s review from Senator Hatch as we are from the White House shows that the real decisions about these monuments are being made in secret,” said Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project. “It turns out that Secretary Zinke’s review was just smoke and mirrors to provide cover for a handful of elites in Washington, D.C. to hand over iconic landscapes to special interests.”
A leaked copy of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendations to the Presidentindicates that the administration intends to shrink both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, but offers no details on boundary changes.
The White House confirmed that the president will be heading to Utah in early December to make an announcement. The White House press secretary also noted in a briefing that President Trump has spoken with Senator Hatch and Senator Lee about specifics.
Neither of Utah’s senators have offered the public much insight into what they know. During Secretary Zinke’s initial review process, Senator Hatch made discriminatory comments about Native Americans, and in May Senator Lee told tele-town hall listeners that Bears Ears would be eliminated or significantly reduced in size.
Utah officials have advocated that Bears Ears be reduced in size to a 120,000-acre area, down from the current 1.3 million acres.