ESCALANTE – Meetings held in Kanab, Boulder and Escalante, organized by Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, attracted almost two hundred participants who came to learn about how to support the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in its larger (1.9 million acre) configuration.
On December 4, 2017, Donald Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation Modifying the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, specifically challenging President Clinton’s establishment of the (then) 1.7 million acre monument.
The proclamation reduces the GSENM boundaries by about 47% (861,974 acres) and declares that “the modified monument areas…shall be known as the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons units of the monument.”
On the heels of this executive order, on December 6, Utah Representative Chris Stewart announced that he would introduce a bill create Utah’s sixth National Park, the Escalante Canyons Park and Preserve, HR 4558 (the language of complete bill is published on page 3).
Scott Berry, a board member of GSEP and resident of Teasdale, explained that three lawsuits have been filed in response to presidential executive order (more recent news reports have stated that this number may have risen to five lawsuits). The suits have been filed in Federal District court in the District of Columbia.
While other monuments have been previously changed by presidential proclamation, none of these changes have been challenged court, making this the first time a legal argument has been made that the Antiquities Act does not include language allowing a president to undo what a previous president has done. “We think we have the better side of the law in these claims,” said Berry.
Berry stated that the administration has 60 days, or until February 3, to respond to the initial lawsuits.