President Donald Trump is shrinking two national monuments in Utah following the Interior Secretary’s review and recommendations.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said Friday that Trump called him to say he will shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments.
Many tribal members consider the land surrounding the twin buttes, known as Bears Ears, to be sacred. The 1.35 million acre monument contains tens of thousands of cultural artifacts.
Arizona Rep. Eric Descheenie led the initiative to protect it as a monument.
“These lands are a part of our kinship,” Descheenie said. “We revere them and consider them to be loving relatives. We take care of our relatives.”
Tribal leaders plan to file a lawsuit to block any changes to Bears Ears. Mark Maryboy, who is Navajo and lives near Bears Ears, said the president’s move is a slap in the face.
Hatch said he and Trump "believe in the importance of protecting these sacred antiquities," but said there is "a better way to do it" by working with local officials and tribes.
Zinke recommended changes to 10 national monuments in September.