Trump Shrinks US National Monuments by over 80%

President Donald Trump has announced plans to reduce the scale of US National Monuments by over 80%. An 84% reduction of Bears Ears and a 50% reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments could considerably impact access to popular climbing and hiking hotspots in Indian Creek, in addition to the loss of protection for land bearing cultural, environmental and historical significance to native populations.

Indian Creek, Utah, 176 kb
Indian Creek, Utah
© Robert Durran, Sep 2015

President Trump announced his proposal - the largest rollback of federal land protection in US history - yesterday afternoon in Salt Lake City, Utah, declaring, "On the recommendation of Secretary Zinke, and with the wise counsel of Senator Hatch, Senator Lee and the many others, I will sign two presidential proclamations. These actions will modify the national monument designations of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante."

In May this year, Trump ordered the review of Obama's parting designation of Bears Ears National Monument as the first priority, amongst numerous other parks, with rescindment or reduction of protected lands a possibility as critics pushed for developments such as oil and gas drilling.

Trump signs the Antiquities Act earlier this year., 106 kb
Trump signs the Antiquities Act earlier this year.
© Shealah Craighead [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

An advocacy event named 'Climb the Hill' took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in May, where a select few top US climbers met with Congress representatives to discuss public lands currently under threat by the Trump Administration and lobbying members of Utah's congressional delegation. Despite a determined pushback by demonstrating climbers, environmental organisations and outdoor industry leaders, Trump's declaration marks the start of uncertain times for US public lands in terms of cultural preservation, commercial land leasing and crag access. The named areas will now be under control of the Bureau of Land Management.

Under President Trump's proclamation, around two million acres of public lands would lose their protected status; within the crack climbing Mecca Indian Creek, the Cliffs of Insanity and the Wall both lost monument status. Other climbing and walking areas now falling outwith the Trump Administration's proposed boundaries include Hart's Draw and Valley of the Gods.

Outdoor gear and clothing retailer Patagonia has stated its intent to file a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for the protection of Bears Ears National Monument, with other groups reportedly filing lawsuits to protect Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The US Access Fund is also preparing to fight against the proposals.

Read more on Rock and Ice.
Read more about protecting US public lands in this UKC interview.
Visit the Access Fund's website for more information.

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