Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
📺 WATCH LIVE: Day 1 of the 2024 Republican National Convention

Rumored Acreage For Utah Monuments: A Fraction Of Current Sizes

Judy Fahys/KUER
The Trump administration is expected to cut as much as 12/13ths of the area within the current Bears Ears National Monument boundary of about 1.35 million acres. This ancestral Puebloan ruin is one of the areas that's rumored to be excised.

State lawmakers asked Washington earlier this year to shrink the Grand Staircase Escalante and completely scrap Bears Ears. So, critics of the two national monuments are happy to hear the White House plans to cut the size of both monuments, even if they still don’t know by how much.

“Have you seen the proposal the President’s going to approve?” asked Rep. Joel Briscoe, D Salt Lake City.

“I have not,” said Ron Dean, an aide to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Dean told the Commission on Stewardship of Public Lands Tuesday that he’d heard what he called “grapevine estimates” about how much smaller the Utah monuments might be. He said Bears Ears could be as little as one-thirteenth its current size. Grand Staircase could be one-fourth.

“And that being said, when the announcement’s made, if the announcement is outside those parameters,” said Dean, “then my rumors were bad rumors.”

It’s still not clear when the White House will announce its plans. And Dean did say that the idea of scrapping Bears Ears altogether - that won’t happen.

Credit Judy Fahys/KUER
Valley of the Gods -- because the formations are geological wonders instead of archaeological ones -- they're not expected to survive boundary cuts by the Trump administration.

Still, Republican members of the commission seemed pleased. 

“We invite you to pass on to the senator that as a commission we’ll, members will be glad to support in any way we can the president’s plans,” said Commission Chairman and State Representative, Keven Stratton, R-Orem.

When Trump might come next month and what he plans to do here still hasn’t been announced.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.