SEMA eNews Vol. 31193, No. 0, January 1, 1970

President Trump Reduces Size of National Monument Designations

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By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

  National Monuments
SEMA supports legislation in the U.S. Congress to curtail the President’s power to unilaterally designate national monuments by requiring their approval by Congress and the impacted state legislature(s).
   

President Trump traveled to Salt Lake City earlier this week, where he signed proclamations to reduce the size of two Utah-based national monuments by more than 2 million acres. The President’s action reduces the borders of the Bears Ears National Monument, which was created in the final days of President Obama’s term, from 1.35 million-acres to 202,000 acres. The proclamation also slashed the size of the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which dates back to 1996, to just over 1 million acres. U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also announced plans to make changes to the boundaries of the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, the Castle Mountains National Monument in California and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument along the border of Oregon and California.

In response to President Trump’s proclamation, environmental and Native American groups have filed lawsuits to prohibit reductions to the monuments. While U.S. presidents have reduced the size of national monuments 18 times, this marks the first time that the decisions will be subject to judicial review. 

The 110-year-old Antiquities Act provides the president authority to preserve land with significant natural, cultural or scientific features. It has resulted in hundreds of millions of acres being set aside over the decades leading many to question whether the footprints are larger than necessary. The issue is consequential for off-road recreation enthusiasts since national monuments automatically prohibit new roads or trails for motorized vehicles and require a new land management plan be drafted that could lead to more road closures. SEMA supports legislation in the U.S. Congress to curtail the President’s power to unilaterally designate national monuments by requiring their approval by Congress and the impacted state legislature(s). 

For more information, contact Eric Snyder at erics@sema.org.

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