President Donald J. Trump Stands with Local Communities against Government Overreach on Land Management
“The Antiquities Act does not give the Federal Government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice.”
—President Donald J. Trump
RESPONSIBLE LAND MANAGEMENT: President Donald J. Trump is modifying two national monuments to continue to protect objects of significance while prioritizing public use and access.
• Today, President Trump is signing two proclamations modifying the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah.
• Bears Ears National Monument will be modified to two units named Shash Jáa, Navajo for Bears Ears, and Indian Creek, encompassing a total of 228,784 acres of land.
o Bears Ears was originally designated in 2016 to encompass nearly 1.5 million acres, including a patchwork of Federal, State, and private land.
o This modification will restore the majority of the National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land to the management status existing prior to the 2016 designation.
• Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument will be modified to three units encompassing a combined 1,006,341 acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.
o Grand Staircase was originally designated in 1996 by President Clinton largely for political purposes.
• Presidents have modified the boundaries to remove lands from monuments 18 times in the past. The most significant reduction occurred in 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson halved Mount Olympus National Monument, which is now a National Park.
ENDING OVERREACH ON PUBLIC LAND: President Trump is ending past overreach and abuse of the monument review process under the Antiquities Act that has closed off land to the public, while continuing to protect objects of significance.
• The Antiquities Act requires that objects be of historic or scientific interest, that the area reserved to protect the objects be the smallest area compatible, and that monuments be designated on Federal land only.
• Since 1996, several national monuments designations have gone beyond the intent of the Antiquities Act—to limit protected areas to the smallest area compatible—and now encompass millions of acres.
o In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt designated the first national monument at Devils Tower, which was less than 1,200 acres.
• “Objects of historic or scientific interest” is a term that has been stretched to include landscape areas, biodiversity, “viewsheds,” World War II desert bombing craters, and “remoteness.”
o Past administrations have abused the designation of objects as national monuments to fill in pre-identified boundaries that mirror failed Congressional attempts to make protective land designations.
• Monument external boundaries often encompass private land, and in the case of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, the expansion contained 38 percent private land within the external boundary.
• Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is the poster child for Antiquities Act overreach and abuse, having been designated to assist President Bill Clinton’s reelection campaign and end the development of a coal project.
A NEW POLICY FOR LAND MANAGEMENT: President Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will work to put in place new land management policies to protect objects while prioritizing public access, facilitating infrastructure development, and allowing traditional uses of the land.
• The Trump Administration is continuing to protect public land, and is keeping parts of monuments to protect objects of interest within the smallest areas compatible.
o The Trump Administration is not going to sell public lands wholesale.
o The Trump Administration will protect objects in the “smallest area compatible” with the proper care of the objects to be protected.
• The Trump Administration is making sure local communities have a voice by restoring traditional “multiple use” activities on Federal lands and waters.
o This will increase economic growth and prosperity, especially in rural communities, by allowing grazing, commercial fishing, logging, and in some cases, mineral development.
o Monument designations should be used to protect objects and not to unnecessarily restrain public access.
• Improving and developing infrastructure will help the American people experience our public lands that have been made inaccessible due to past overreach.
o Some monument designations prevent construction of future roads and other facilities, making the land inaccessible for use.
o Restrictions on vegetative management and maintenance activities have led to poorly maintained roads and even closures.
• Monument designations have greatly restricted multiple-uses like grazing, timber harvest, fishing, resource development, infrastructure upgrades, and motorized recreation.
o Designating too much land for a national monument is harmful to the local tax base via the elimination or unnecessary restriction of grazing, timber and mineral activity and leases, as well as the restricting of access to hunting and fishing opportunities.
A TRANSPARENT REVIEW PROCESS: President Trump and his Administration are being open and transparent in the review of monuments.
• The President’s proclamation follows an open and transparent review process originally initiated by President Trump’s Executive Order 13792, “Review of Designations under the Antiquities Act.”
o President Trump’s Executive Order limited the review to monuments designated after January 1, 1996, and over 100,000 acres in size, or monuments that Secretary Zinke deemed to have been created without adequate public input.
o The review only covers only 27 of the more than 150 monuments that the Act has been used to designate or expand.
• Secretary Zinke visited eight monuments in six States and personally held more than 60 meetings with hundreds of local stakeholders.
o Individuals and organizations representing all sides of the debate were involved, ranging from environmental organizations to county commissioners and local residents.
o Secretary Zinke met with Tribal representatives, including from the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition in Salt Lake City.
• Secretary of the Interior Zinke opened a formal comment period on regulations.gov, for the first time ever, of the review of monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.