Washington, Dec 5: President Dold Trump has ordered the largest reduction in public protected lands in the history of the US, cutting more than 9,200 sq.km from two tiol monuments in Utah, a measure condemned by ecologists and tive Americans. On a visit to Salt Lake City on Monday, Trump ordered Bears Ears, desigted by his predecessor Barack Obama, to be reduced in size from some 1.3 million acres to about 220,000 of federally protected land, reports Efe news.
The President also decreed that Grand Staircase-Escalante, which was desigted a tiol monument by former President Bill Clinton’s administration, to be cut from 1.9 million acres to just over 1 million acres. Trump slammed those who were of the opinion “that the tural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. “Guess what? They’re wrong,” he said, addressing an audience at the Utah State Capitol.
Trump said that his “historic” move was designed to reverse overstepping by the federal government and restore the rights to land in Utah to its citizens.
tiol monuments - which are federally protected lands - may be created by presidents without the approval of Congress, according to the 1906 Antiquities Act, although tiol parks require congressiol approval.
Trump said that his predecessors in the White House “abused” that law to place ever more land and water under federal control, and he claimed that doing so took from local residents the ability to decide how best to use those territories. The White House aim is to open up lands that heretofore were protected to facilitate public use of their roadways and pastures, as well as “healthy hunting and fishing”, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters.
Grand Staircase-Escalante has coal deposits but Zinke denied that the decision to reduce its size had anything to do with mineral exploitation interests, adding that Bears Ears has no known oil or gas deposits.
The move sparked vehement criticism by various environmental defence organisations. In addition, five Indian tribes who pressured to gain federal protection for Bears Ears - the Hopi, the vajo tion, the Ute Mountain Tribe, the Pueblo and the Ute Indian Tribe - are suing the Trump administration. (IANS)