President Trump flew to Utah earlier this month to announce his Executive Order that will reduce the size of two national monuments in southern Utah, giving the land back to Utahns. The president also took the opportunity to meet with leaders of the Mormon community to hear about the church’s humanitarian efforts and to encourage Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to run for re-election. Trump’s proclamation will shrink the Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, opening them up for drilling, mining, and grazing.
The president declared to a very excited crowd: “With the action I’m taking today, we will not only give back your voice over the use of this land, we will also restore your access and your enjoyment.” He added, “Public lands will once again be for public use.”
According to Reuters, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was charged with reviewing some 27 monuments that were created by past Presidents under the Antiquities Act. This century-old law, while intended to protect cultural artifacts and other historical objects, has been abused by a government bureaucracy that made the land off-limits to economic development.
Senator Hatch praised Trump’s latest attempt at rolling back government overreach, saying “I was incredibly grateful that the President called this morning to let us know that he is approving Secretary Zinke’s recommendation on Bear Ears.” Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) was also pleased to hear the news, as the Senator has long been a supporter of shrinking the sites.
In his run for the Presidency, Trump often blasted the Bureau of Land Management for its “draconian” land grabbing. He called for an end to special interests profiting from DC rule-making that barred those in rural areas from ranching, mining, logging, and energy development. He called out the government for making the price of land skyrocket along with the cost of living.
The Trump Administration has also been considering moving the headquarters for the Bureau of Land Management out West, to cities such as Salt Lake City or Denver.