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Trump Expected to Announce Shrinking of 2 National Monuments in Utah

The drillers, miners and frackers who were shut out by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act would have new leases on life. “I’m going to sue him,” says Yvon Chouinard, founder and CEO of outdoor gear maker Patagonia. New cars. To his Navajo faith, this canyon holds the spirits of his loved ones and these carvings are just as sacred as any art in the Vatican or any wall in Jerusalem, yet someone has been using it for target practice. The spindly renderings of man and animal are the work of an artist they’ve dubbed “Wolfman” for the paw print signature that accompanies the pictoglyphs. “It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits. This government is evil and I’m not going to sit back and let evil win.”
Chouinard led the effort to move a major outdoor show from Salt Lake City to Denver in protest of Utah’s land use politics and he’s been a big supporter of the historic coalition of the five local tribes, which put aside ancient rivalries and lobbied for monument protection. But, he feels, history hasn’t shown that to be true. “It stands in the way of progress for them. If only the sandstones could sing, imagine the stories they’d tell, of dinosaurs, mammoth hunters and the “ancient ones” known as the Anasazi. “They didn’t want to work with us,” he says. All roamed southern Utah over the eons, long before Native Americans struggled to hold their land against Mormon settlers, modern life and now, Donald Trump. 37.630050
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He’s heard the argument that his people need jobs and that the extraction industry could provide them while protecting the most important sites. But according to former county commissioner and Navajo elder Mark Maryboy, cultural sensitivity is hard to find in San Juan County. “They are the last ones to be hired for any position. “What’s his net worth? Even if there’s a huge mining operation opening up, they will not be hired for that position. Hoodoos, among the natural wonders in Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, is seen in this undated CNN photo. As the President arrives in Utah Monday afternoon, this rocky corner of the Wild West is a battlefield once again, but this time the warriors will carry briefcases and lawsuits. New clothes. “The local white community members are determined to get rid of all the art rock,” he says. You’ll be amazed at the stories they tell. “The experience that Native Americans see in this county is discrimination,” he says. “By designating a monument, you are using a tool that will bring hordes of people to a place that is very sensitive,” he says. We need more, not less. “In fact, one of the county commissioners told me ‘You guys lost the war so you have no business talking about the land planning process.’”
With efficient strides, he drops into a canyon near the San Juan River, past one of the 100,000 sacred ruins in Bears Ears, to a wall covered in 1,200-year old rock art. If only the rocks could talk. Here, Chouinard represents all the liberal interests from outside, conspiring to pit neighbor against neighbor. Orrin Hatch and his fellow Utah Republicans would have a major victory to celebrate. One billion dollars? And they will be exposed to the toxic materials that are left on the ground or in the air.”
Regardless of Trump’s decision and unless Utah politicians can figure out a way to take them back and sell them off, the 3 million acres around Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will remain public. During a speech in Salt Lake City, Trump is expected to announce the fate of two national monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, created by Democratic predecessors to protect culture, history and natural beauty. But his arguments carry no sway at a pro-Trump, anti-monument rally in Monticello. Two billion?” says San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman. Costa Rica’s got 10%. “You got Patagonia in here waving the flag of environmentalism while he’s completely exploiting the outdoors for industrialized tourism. If you are an American, this is your land and these are your rocks. It stands in the way of a job. For a person in that position to try and lecture morality to one of the poorest counties in the entire nation is wrong.”
Ancient rock art, shown in this undated CNN photo, is pockmarked by bullet holes. He is expected to shrink both significantly, much to the delight of locals who see them as nothing more than a 3-million-acre federal land grab. Pay them a visit sometime. And then he points out the modern bullet holes. The size of New Jersey, San Juan is the biggest and poorest county in Utah and with this moment of political victory, Lyman finds kinship with the coal miners of Appalachia. He points out that Bears Ears is the fifth national park or monument in his county and argues that oil and gas extraction would have less impact on the landscape than the brand of adventure tourism that has transformed nearby Moab. But those who believe the rocks can talk, through countless fossils, sacred ruins and desert solitude, are bracing for a fight. Chile will now have way more parks than we have.