SALT LAKE CITY — Kane County officials suggested to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that the 1.9 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah could be shrunk to about one-tenth the size, according to maps obtained by a Salt Lake City newspaper.
The map indicated the monument could be reduced to about 200,000 acres covering two separate areas, The Salt Lake Tribune reported . County officials had refused to release the map presented to Zinke at a closed-door meeting in May, saying that it was an incomplete draft that could mislead the public.
The county commission didn’t have a formal proposal on the matter, but the officials created the maps to offer Zinke something in writing, said Robert Van Dyke, the county’s attorney.
The newspaper obtained a version from state public lands officials through a second request for public records.
The announcement of reductions to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the new Bears Ears National Monument is expected to be made by President Donald Trump when he visits the state early next month. The office of Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has indicated that the president plans to reduce Grand Staircase by about half.
The county’s maps do not represent the county’s stance on the monument’s futures boundaries, said Dirk Clayson, the chairman of the commission.
“The map is merely a suggestion of locations that should be managed and promoted for high visitation,” Clayson said in a statement.
Van Dyke said they want the land protected, but they don’t want access to it to be restricted. He said the commission needs to balance the competing interests of ranchers who want the monument gone and those of the groups who oppose any reduction.
“The monument in Kane County, to many residents, has been a blight to our economy, our culture, our values,” Van Dyke said. “It has been difficult over the last several decades. Citizens’ voices have been shut out.”
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com