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Rick Bowmer, AP Photo, File

Trump to visit Salt Lake on Monday to announce national monument reductions

By Lisa Riley Roche, KSL  |  Posted Nov 28th, 2017 @ 2:05pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump will visit Salt Lake on Monday to announce reductions in the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, a source confirmed to KSL.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who pushed for the changes to the monuments, will be with the president.

"I'm thrilled the president has accepted my invitation to come to Utah to discuss critical issues that matter to my constituents," Hatch said Tuesday.

San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams said he and other area officials will be in Salt Lake City to thank the president personally for taking action on the monument designations made by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The commissioner told KSL Newsradio's Doug Wright that it was hard to describe "how excited I am for the president of the United States to come to Utah and to actually get to thank him and shake his hand."

Adams said although many residents in the area want to see the monument designations rescinded altogether, "if the reductions are significant enough, I think they would be acceptable to San Juan County."

Organizations opposed to shrinking the monuments were also quick to respond to the news of the president's trip.

Center for Western Priorities Executive Director Jennifer Rokala said Trump is trying "to push through the largest elimination of protections for lands and wildlife in U.S. history," that will encourage further looting of Native American ruins and artifacts.

"Not only is President Trump's order likely illegal, it ignores comments from more than 2.8 milion Americans who asked the administration to leave these national monuments alone," Rokala said.

Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the president "has no clue how much people love these sacred and irreplaceable landscapes, but he's about to find out."

The Arizona-based group is one of several organizations that have threatened to challenge changes to the monuments in court.

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The trip was first discussed in late October, when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a televised news conference that Trump was coming to the state.

"I am not going to get ahead of the president's announcement on the specifics, but I can tell you he will be going to Utah in the first part of early December," Sanders said.

At that time, it was Hatch who announced that the president had agreed to follow recommendations made by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reduce the size of the monuments. The former Montana congressman had visited the remote region in May.

Details of Zinke's recommendations have not been released. Trump ordered the review of the monuments in an executive order signed in April.

Adams and others have suggested the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument might be reduced to three smaller areas specifically designed to protect cultural resources.

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