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Last Updated Dec 4, 2017 5:19 PM EST

President Trump announced his administration’s decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments Monday afternoon during a speech at the Utah State Capitol building.

Under the authority of the Antiquities Act, Mr. Trump signed two presidential proclamations that will shrink Bears Ears by 85 percent Grand Staircase-Escalante by 50 percent in order to designate “the smallest area compatible with the care and management of the important objects of historic or scientific interest,” according to the Department of the Interior.

“I don’t think it’s controversial, actually, I think it’s so sensible,” Mr. Trump said despite protests and forthcoming lawsuits from Native American tribes and environmentalists.

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante were among the 27 national monuments Mr. Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review earlier this year.

The president said he consulted Utah Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee regarding the decision. Hatch has long encouraged Mr. Trump to review the monuments declared by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, arguing that they take up too much federal land.

Mr. Trump said his administration’s decision would “reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land” to the citizens of Utah, rather than keeping most the land under national monument designation and thus under the control of the federal government. 

“Some people think that the natural resource of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats in Washington. And guess what? They’re wrong,” Mr. Trump said to applause.

Federal lands excluded from the modifications to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will remain federally owned.

Bears Ears National Monument will be reduced from more than 1.3 million-acres to 201,876 acres, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will be reduced from nearly 1.9 million acres to 1,003,863 acres.

The areas within Bear Ears’ modified boundaries will be relabeled as Indian Creek Unit and Shash Jáa Unit.

According to the Department of the Interior, the decision regarding the two national monuments is intended to protect livestock grazing, open roads and increase “the Tribal Voice,” although the reversal has been met with opposition from tribal groups in the area.

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