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Trump drastically shrinks Bears Ears national monument, likely triggering legal backlash

President Trump announced Monday in Salt Lake City that he will reduce the size of Utah's Bears Ears National Monument by roughly 84 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly half. The pair of moves amounts to what environmental advocates call the largest-ever rollback of protected land, The Hill reports.

The Bears Ears monument was designated by former President Barack Obama in late 2016, after indigenous peoples fought for its recognition, The New York Times explains. Its protected land spans 1.3 million acres. Trump's decision to shrink the monument had been widely anticipated and is expected to trigger a legal fight by the five tribes who originally lobbied the Obama administration — the Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Hopi — for its protection. (Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated by former President Bill Clinton in 1996.)

Immediately after announcing the decision in Utah on Monday, Trump signed two presidential proclamations — one regarding Bears Ears, and another regarding Grand Staircase-Escalante — to modify the designations. He told the Salt Lake City crowd that he had consulted with Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), who introduced the president's remarks; Utah's other senator, Mike Lee (R); and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) on the decision, and that all of them told him the monument should be reduced.

"Public lands will once again be for public use," Trump said. A lawsuit against the administration opposing the reductions could come as soon as Monday afternoon. Watch a portion of Trump's announcement below. Kimberly Alters