“Well, as we feared, Trump has cut out over two million acres,” said Scott Groene, the executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
Those two million acres make up about 90% of Bears Ears National Monument and about half of Grand Staircase-Escalante. These new borders could open up the land to commercial activities, including gas, oil and coal development and other types of mining.
The alliance has released maps and other documents outlining how specific areas with natural resources would fall outside the monuments’ new borders.
“For the Grand Staircase, for example, they have opened the area adjacent to Capitol Reef National Park, where there are hydrocarbon leases that are currently under suspension,” Groene said.
Groene said this appears to be intentional. The maps highlight the locations of coal deposits in Grand Staircase-Escalante and oil and gas development potential in Bears Ears, along other information about the land’s development potential. President Trump’s decision to shrink the monuments likely marks the beginning of a legal battle that will set precedents for other national monuments.
“The tribes will lead on the litigation for the Bears Ears National Monument. Many of the conservation groups will then challenge the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument decision.”
Groene said this work started less than an hour after Trump signed the proclamation, with people working to obtain copies of the document as the basis for future litigation.