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Dec. 4, 2017, announces he's ...
Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press file
In this undated file photo, the Upper Gulch section of the Escalante Canyons within Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument features sheer sandstone walls, broken occasionally by tributary canyons. Utah has long stood out for going far beyond other Western states in trying to get back control of its federally protected lands. When President Donald Trump on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, announces he’s going to shrink two national monuments in the state, his warm welcome will stand out in a region that is normally protective of its parks and monuments.
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is announcing plans to scale back two sprawling national monuments in Utah, responding to what he has condemned as a “massive federal land grab” by the government.

Trump is traveling to Salt Lake City on Monday to outline his intention to shrink the Bears Ears and the Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments spanning millions of acres in Utah. The two national monuments were among 27 that Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review earlier this year.

Utah’s Republican leaders, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, pressed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments declared by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton locked up too much federal land.

Trump’s plans to curtail the strict protections on the sites have angered tribes and environmentalist groups who have vowed to sue to preserve the monuments.

  • The Colorado River flows past the northernmost boundary of the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.

    Francisco Kjolseth, The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

    The Colorado River flows past the northernmost boundary of the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.

  • Shows the "House on Fire" ...

    Rick Bowmer , Associated Press file

    This June 22, 2016, file photo, shows the "House on Fire" ruins in Mule Canyon in the Bears Ears National Monument near Blanding, Utah.

  • This May 23, 2016, file photo shows Lockhart Basin, south of the Colorado River, within the boundary of the Bears Ears region in southeastern Utah. President Barack Obama designated two national monuments Wednesday at sites in Utah and Nevada that have become key flashpoints over use of public land in the U.S. West.

    Francisco Kjolseth, The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

    This May 23, 2016, file photo shows Lockhart Basin, south of the Colorado River, within the boundary of the Bears Ears region in southeastern Utah. President Barack Obama designated two national monuments Wednesday at sites in Utah and Nevada that have become key flashpoints over use of public land in the U.S. West.

  • Backpacker Carl Sullivan from Colorado Springs, Colorado stands on a rock under Broken Bow Arch in The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern  Utah 06 October 2001.  This is one of several National Parks and Monuments in Utah that could be visited during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    George Grey, AFP/Getty Images

    Backpacker Carl Sullivan from Colorado Springs, Colorado stands on a rock under Broken Bow Arch in The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah 06 October 2001. This is one of several National Parks and Monuments in Utah that could be visited during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • The best preserved of the seven ...

    Katherine Frey, The Washington Post

    The best preserved of the seven Pueblo ruins that date to the 13th century called Cave Canyon Towers is photographed at Bears Ears National Monument June 11, 2017 in Cedar Mesa, UTAH.

  • This May 8, 2017, file photo ...

    Francisco Kjolseth, The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

    This May 8, 2017, file photo shows an aerial view of Arch Canyon within Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Native American tribes and environmental groups preparing a legal battle to stop President Donald Trump from dismantling Utah's new national monument will face a tougher challenge than anticipated.

  • Sandstone formations are shown here in ...

    George Frey, Getty Images file

    Sandstone formations are shown here in the Hells Backbone and Calf Creek area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on May 11, 2017 outside Boulder, Utah.

  • Shows the "House on Fire” ...

    Rick Bowmer, Associated Press file

    This June 22, 2016, file photo, shows the "House on Fire” ruins one of the ancient sites in the Bears Ears region near Blanding, Utah.

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In December, shortly before leaving office, Obama irritated Utah Republicans by creating the Bears Ears National Monument on 1.35 million acres of land sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to conduct a review of the protections. Trump is able to upend the protections under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives the president broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use.

The president said in April 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.”

Trump said at the time that he had spoken to state and local leaders “who are gravely concerned about this massive federal land grab. And it’s gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place. This should never have happened.”

The move marks the first time in a half century that a president has attempted to undo these types of land protections. And it could be the first of many changes to come.

Zinke also has recommended that Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced in size, although details remain unclear. The former Montana congressman’s plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

Democrats and environmentalists have opposed the changes, accusing Trump and Zinke of engaging in a secretive process aimed at helping industry groups that have donated to Republican campaigns.

Associated Press writer Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

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