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What is at stake at the Bears Ears Monument in Utah

Photo: Keith Cuddeback

President Trump’s announcement of his plans to eliminate 2 million acres from two federally-protected monuments in Utah has sparked outrage among the many who have visited them. The Bears Ears National Monument, which currently covers an area of 1.3 million acres, would be cut down to 15% of its current size. Even though the Bears Ears monument is barely over a year old, Instagram has seen a flood of images of the sites that would be affected by the decision this week.

Many of these images are accompanied by statements calling on the President to reverse his decision, which Trump claims was based on putting the land under local control. “Some people think that the natural resources should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” Trump said in Salt Lake City. “And guess what: They’re wrong.”

While this might be one the most publicized announcements regarding national parks and monuments during the Trump administration, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has given the White House a list of 27 monuments that he would like to see shrunk in size. A majority of these are in the Southwestern US, including the San Gabriel Mountains and Giant Sequoia National Park.

One Instagrammer, Jeff Mogavero, shared his thoughts on the announcement regarding Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: “I will never forget my time spent in the canyons of southern Utah, out of reach of the national park crowds and immersed in the juniper-piñon pine forest. I had never experienced anything like the silence I found at the bottom of a deep slot canyon, or land so remote I did not see another human for days on end. These lands are sacred to native peoples, home to fascinating biota, and held dear to thousands for their recreational uses. Why it is a priority for our country to reduce the protections on these lands, I don’t know.”

Below are photos of the unique archaeological and geological sites that would be cut out of the Bears Ears Monument if Trump follows through with his announcement.

1. Valley of the Gods

2. Cedar Mesa

3. Cottonwood Wash

4. Butler Wash