Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said President Donald Trump called on Friday to say he will approve a recommendation from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
Though White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she will not confirm reports that the president will shrink national monuments in Utah.
Hatch said he and Trump "believe in the importance of protecting these sacred antiquities," but said there is "a better way to do it" by working with local officials and tribes.
In San Juan County, the commissioners released a statement saying they are thrilled about the results and felt their voices were heard from both President Trump and Secretary Zinke. The commission said they believe the people of San Juan will continue to take special care of the land stating this is their home and no one wants to see it protected and secured for future generations more than they do.
Hatch's office said Trump called the senator Friday and said, "I'm approving the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase recommendation for you, Orrin."
In response to this, Deputy Director Greg Zimmerman from the Center for Western Priorities released a statement saying that President Trump and his administration will stop at nothing to sell out American’s parks and public lands. Zimmerman said the president couldn’t care less about the cultural history and that he wants to see more places to drill and mine. He also warns that this action will be met with immediate legal challenges.
Suzanne Catlett, president of the Escalante and Boulder Utah Chamber of Commerce said:
President Trump and Ryan Zinke's attack on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is an attack on southern Utah's entrepreneurs and the thousands of jobs that depend on the Monument. The utter disregard for our thriving community and the views of local business owners like me, shows that President Trump could care less about jobs in rural America.
Jonah Yellowman, board member and spiritual advisor for Utah Diné Bikéyah said:
Bears Ears holds our prayers, medicine, and sacred grounds. Bears Ears National Monument honors Native Americans and provides a path for healing. President Trump should leave it alone and respect our people.
And UDB Chairman Willie Grayeyes said:
Secretary Zinke refused to meet with the Native American community in San Juan County, and locals cannot recall a single time in Senator Hatch’s 42-year career when he has ever visited our reservations in San Juan County. Senator Hatch does not represent grassroots low-income people. Instead of further agitating our community along racial lines, we ask President Trump to stop the harm he is causing. Please leave all protections in place.
The White House spokeswoman said Trump will go to Utah in early December and that the administration will release details "at that point, if not some before."