About 1.7 million acres of land was declared protected under Proclamation 6920 by former President Bill Clinton on September 18, 1996, (Congress added more later) and Trump's Monday order reduces that to just over 1 million acres. Nearly as soon as the reduction was announced, a deluge of lawsuits were filed on behalf of many involved in that fight - including one by a coalition of 10 conservation groups, and one by a coalition of five Native American Tribes.
The authority to create national monuments is afforded to presidents under a 1906 law called the Antiquities Act, and in the century since the law was passed, it has been used to protect millions of acres of wilderness and scores of culturally significant sites.
President Trump signs proclamations shrinking Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments Monday. This is the biggest reduction of federal land protection in the history of the nation.
Among the fossil finds from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, paleontologists have identified dinosaurs not previously known to have inhabited this region, as well as several new species. "I have seen these impacts myself - and as an American, I am ashamed we have let this happen".
The Trump Administration's latest move could place national monuments in jeopardy-and brands, including Patagonia and REI, are fighting back to protect lands that are key to the outdoor industry.
The outdoor retailer has been opposing the Trump administration's public lands policies since the transfer of power from Barack Obama's presidency in January. And we'll use every tool available and we will prevail.
Patagonia called the decision an "illegal move" by Trump, and said the company plans to sue the administration over the decision. "There is nothing in the Antiquities Act that authorizes the president to modify a national monument once its designated", explained Ethel Branch, attorney general for the Navajo Nation.
Valley of the Gods in Bears Ears National Monument, Utah, May 11, 2017.
By drastically reducing the amount of land protected under the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monument designations, Trump effectively opened up the unprotected land to future drilling and mining. No president has ever revoked and replaced a national monument before because it is not legal to do so.
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