Four designated national monuments in Arizona are among 24 across the country slated for review under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump Wednesday.
The President's executive order calls for a review of all national monuments designated since 1996 and larger than 100,000 acres. The Arizona monuments on the list are the Grand Canyon-Parashant, Vermillion Cliffs, Ironwood Forest, and Sonoran Desert National Monuments, all established by President Bill Clinton under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
Bears Ears National Monument in Utah is also on the list. Grand Canyon Trust Executive Director Bill Hedden says its designation by former President Barack Obama may be the reason the list of 24 exists at all, pointing to the controversy in Utah politics over the land that became the Bears Ear’s monument.
"President Trump has acceded to the demands of a bunch of very hard-line politicians in Utah, who in addition to wanting to get rid of the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase National Monument, also feel that the public land should be taken away from the people of America and given to state of Utah," says Hedden.
The list includes monuments established by the three presidents preceding Mr. Trump, including more than 60 million acres in the Marianas Trench National Monument created by President George W. Bush.
Mr. Trump will now decide the fate of monuments created by the three presidents that preceded him.
"It's important for people to realize that after 97 days in office President Trump set himself up as the arbiter of history, of what three previous Presidents have done. He's going to be the one who decides whether what they did was appropriate or not," says Hedden.
The order opens the door to Mr. Trump becoming the first president to revoke a national monument designation, though Congress has done so.