Trump arrives in Utah to declare monument reductions

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Trump said Monday while leaving the White House that the monument announcement is "something that the state of Utah and others have wanted to be done for many, many years".

Before making the announcement at the Utah State Capital Monday afternoon, Trump is scheduled to meet with Mormon leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and tour Welfare Square, the Mormon social services complex. Bears Ears was established by President Obama in 2016, while Grand Staircase-Escalante was established in 1996 by President Clinton.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters the changes were supported by Utah's Republican Governor Gary Herbert, along with Utah's congressional delegation, the state legislature, and the local county Commissioner Rebecca Bennally. A protest is being organised by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and on Saturday, thousands of demonstrators holding signs with messages like "Protect Wild Utah" converged on the steps of the Utah State Capitol.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, will be reduced from almost 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1,003,863 acres (1,569 square miles). The Bears Ears and surrounding sites are considered sacred to many American Indian tribes. President Barack Obama was particularly active in designating new and expanded monuments, bringing more land and water under federal protection than any president in history.

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Trump will also ask Congress to look at the areas that are being removed from the current monuments to consider designating some as a national conservation or national recreation areas, and create a co-management structure for tribes.

The president said in April that his order would end "another egregious abuse of federal power" and "give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs". "This should never have happened".

The decision marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections.

Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced in size, though details remain unclear.