President Donald Trump signed two proclamations Monday, Dec. 4, dividing the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments and reducing them in size.
The move was expected, after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke conducted a review of all presidential monument designations dating to the Clinton Administration.
Bears Ears National Monument
Zinke did not recommend any monuments be rescinded. Instead, he recommended some be reduced in size to more closely align with the American Antiquities Act of 1906, which grants presidents designation authority.
The Antiquities Act limits the area of new monuments to "to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected."
The AMA believes that previous presidents overstepped their authority under the act and designated much larger swathes of land as monuments, sometimes encompassing millions of acres. Such sweeping designations may jeopardize opportunities for responsible motorized recreation.
Under the president's plan, Bears Ears National Monument will be modified to two units named Shash Jáa, Navajo for Bears Ears, and Indian Creek, encompassing a total of 228,784 acres of land.
Bears Ears was originally designated by President Barack Obama in 2016 to encompass nearly 1.5 million acres, including a patchwork of federal, state and private land.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument will be modified to three units encompassing a little more than 1 million acres. Grand Staircase was originally designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton.
Presidents have modified the boundaries to remove lands from monuments 18 times in the past. The most significant reduction occurred in 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson halved Mount Olympus National Monument, which is now a national park.