Trump cuts protected Utah lands

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The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

President Trump departed for Utah on Monday to announce what could be the largest rollback of federally protected lands in history.

Zinke accompanied Trump aboard Air Force One, as did Utah's Republican senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. After that, he'll have a meeting with officials for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days saint, and a possible tour of Welfare Square.

He's then expected to declare reductions of the Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments, which span millions of acres.

Both parks, or monuments as they are called, are in the dramatic Southern Utah red rock country. 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.

The Trump administration can resize an existing national monument thanks to a provision in The Antiquities Act of 1906.

The other would cut to the state's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument created by President Bill Clinton in 1996 almost in half, splitting it into three areas.

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 could be the first of many changes to come. Environmental and most tribal groups have condemned the decision and promised to fight it in court, questioning whether the president can rescind a national monument without an act of Congress. The former Montana congressman's plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in ME and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

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