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Utah Lawmakers Introduce Legislation To Shrink Monuments

Utah lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday that would limit the size and scope of the Antiquities Act to protect smaller parcels of land with the buy-in of local communities and states.

The legislation is a response to President Barack Obama's use of the Antiquities Act to set aside 1.35 million acres as Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. While five Native American tribes say this land is sacred, Republican Congressman Rob Bishop says Utah lawmakers did not want that monument.

"There is nobody in the Utah delegation in the Senate or the House who supports it," Bishop said. "There is no one in the state administration who supports it. You can't even find a commissioner who supports it, even the only elected Navajo we have in the state is in that particular county and she is opposed to it."

The legislation would limit the size of national monuments to no more than 10,000 acres and keep its boundaries at least 50 miles from a neighboring monument. A larger monument would have to be approved by county and state leaders. If passed, the law would also give the president authority to shrink existing monuments.

Laurel Morales was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2011 to 2020.