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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Larry Cesspooch plays and sings during the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments rally at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Editor's note: This article was updated December 2, 2017 to reflect President Donald Trump’s visit to Utah.

Here's a look at the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears monument designations, from their creation to the days leading up to the Trump administration’s verdict on the monuments’ status.


Sept. 7, 1996 — A news report says President Bill Clinton is considering a proposal to designate a huge swath of federal land in southern Utah as a national monument, a move that could prevent most future commercial development throughout a vast area rich in spectacular scenery, coal reserves and land use disputes.

Sept. 18, 1996 — Despite repeated pleas — including some in the middle of the night — from Utah officials to defer it, Clinton travels to the Grand Canyon in Arizona to announce plans for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah's Kane County.

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President Bill Clinton signs an order in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona to designate a vast canyonland in Utah, including Grand Escalante Staircase, a national monument Sept. 18, 1996, while Vice President Al Gore watches.

Sept. 25, 1996 — Gov. Mike Leavitt says he hopes something positive will come from the new monument, confirming Clinton specifically promised him that state and local governments would have a meaningful role in the development of its management plans.

Sept. 26, 1996 — Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, introduces a bill to strip the power of presidents to create permanent national monuments.

Sept. 30, 1996 — Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, Larry Craig, R-Idaho, introduce a bill requiring that before a monument can be formed, studies must be performed as necessary to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Oct. 24, 1996 — Leavitt says Utah will not sue the federal government over the monument.

Jan. 28, 1997 — In a letter to Clinton, Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, invites the president to finally visit Utah and monument he created. Clinton declines the invitation.

Feb. 3, 1997 — Leavitt tells the Clinton administration it not only needs to plan how to manage the monument but also how to save local economies hurt by it.

April 29, 1997 — The Clinton administration gives testimony and documents showing it really had been studying forming the monument for more than a year and had discussed for months exactly when to announce it for the greatest political benefit.

June 23, 1997 — The Utah Association of Counties files a lawsuit in federal court in Utah seeking to disband the monument.

Ravell Call, Deseret News
Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. photos by Ravell Call Dec. 1996

Jan. 20, 1998 — Andalex Resources Inc., the coal company that lost its bid to open a mine in southern Utah because of the 1996 creation of the monument, says the federal government owes it $59.5 million. The Department of the Interior agrees to pay Andalex $14 million for 17 coal leases inside the monument in October 1999.

May 8, 1998 — Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Leavitt sign a historic agreement to swap out a checkerboard of state lands — designed to raise money for schools — that have been buried within national parks, forests and lands. Utah would give the federal government 376,000 acres of such lands in exchange for $50 million in cash, 140,000 acres of federal land and leases for coal and natural gas. The agreement is passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by Clinton on Oct. 31.

Oct. 16, 1998 — Congress passes and sends to Clinton a measure to slightly revise the monument’s boundaries.

Feb. 21, 2000 — The long-awaited final Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument management plan, which governs everything from how scientific research is conducted to which roads will remain open to the public, is unveiled. Opponents gear up to challenge it in federal court.

April 19, 2004 — U.S. District Judge Dee Benson rules that former president Clinton had the authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the monument in 1996.


Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - The Bears Ears of the Bears Ears National Monument are pictured from the air on Monday, May 8, 2017.

July 14, 2011 — Utah Navajos lobby for the Dine Bikeyah National Conservation Area, seeking collaborative management of sacred sites and working with then-Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah. The proposal cites frustration with the Bureau of Land Management's oversight of the area.

Nov. 19, 2013 — A summary of public outreach to craft a massive lands bill that includes San Juan County and the Bears Ears region is released, documenting the efforts of Rep. Rob Bishop and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and their staff to meet with stakeholders on contentious land issues.

Oct. 24, 2014 — Conservation Land Foundation board members meet in San Francisco to discuss their monuments campaign, acknowledging that the Cedar Mesa proposal has more political appeal because of tribal involvement rather than the Greater Canyonlands proposal.

July 18, 2015 — Federal officials, including representatives from the National Park Service, convene a secret meeting with tribal leaders at Bears Ears meadows to discuss the proposal for a 1.9 million-acre monument.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visits Canyon Country in southern Utah on Thursday, July 14, 2016.

July 15, 2016 — With the monument controversy heating up, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell tours the Bears Ears region and meets with Native American supporters of the monument designation, as well as San Juan County leaders who oppose its creation.

Dec. 28, 2016 — President Barack Obama declares the Bears Ears National Monument, despite the outcry of elected leaders in Utah and San Juan County. Monument backers celebrate the designation.

Dec. 29, 2016 — As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Chaffetz says repeated requests for information related to the Obama administration's process in using the Antiquities Act were ignored or met with inadequate responses.

Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio listens to a question over a translation earpiece during a press event to promote his new film "The Revenant," in Mexico City, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016.

Jan. 12, 2017 — Movie star and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio partners his foundation with other philanthropic groups to cut a check for $1.5 million to establish the Bears Ears Community Engagement Fund.

Nicole Boliaux, Deseret News
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, gives a speech on the first day of the 2017 Legislature at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017.

Feb. 3, 2017 — An indignant Utah Senate votes 22-6 to urge the unraveling of the monument designation in San Juan County, bristling at the process used under the Antiquities Act that they say ignored a majority of statewide sentiment. The Utah House previously voted 60-14 to approve the measure.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Ryan Robinson performs stunts on a slackline at the Mountain Hardware booth during the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016.

Feb. 16, 2017Outdoor Retailer organizers announce plans to end the trade show's 20-year relationship with Utah over the industry's frustration with state efforts to undo the monument designation.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, at his home in Alpine on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

March 6, 2017 — Chaffetz asks a House appropriations subcommittee to refrain from funding Bears Ears as a national monument.

April 13, 2017 — Democrats send a letter to President Donald Trump, imploring him to stand by his acknowledgement that the country needs to be "great stewards of this land" and reject calls to rescind the designation.

Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
President Donald Trump hands a pen to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, after signing an Antiquities Executive Order during a ceremony at the Interior Department in Washington, Wednesday, April, 26, 2017. The president is asking for a review of the designation of tens of millions of acres of land as "national monuments."

April 26, 2017 — President Trump signs an executive order calling for a review of national monument designations over the past 21 years. Trump said he signed the order "to end these abuses and return control to the people, the people of Utah, the people of all of the states, the people of the United States."

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
An attendee wears a bear hat during the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments rally at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

May 6, 2017 — Hundreds of people converge at the Utah Capitol to show their support for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Meanwhile, opponents gathered at Pioneer Park in Blanding.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke takes a horseback ride in the Bears Ears National Monument with local and state representatives on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

May 10, 2017 — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tours Bears Ears National Monument by vehicle, foot, helicopter and horseback before turning his attention to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Zinke's visit is part of the review ordered by Trump.

May 18, 2017 — The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance funds full-page newspaper ads that call into question whether Trump's legacy will measure up with that of another New York Republican, Teddy Roosevelt — the first president to declare a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

June 5, 2017 — San Juan County commissioners return to Utah after a day of meetings with federal officials, providing additional information at the agency's request regarding Bears Ears.

June 12, 2017 — Zinke issues his review of the designation and recommends the monument's boundary be revised; that the president request congressional authority to enable tribal co-management of the designated cultural areas within the revised boundaries; that Congress make more appropriate conservation designations within the current monument footprint, such as national recreation areas or national conservation areas; and that Congress clarify the intent of the management practices of wilderness study areas within the monument.

Aug. 25, 2017 — The New York Times reports Zinke is recommending the Bears Ears National Monument be reduced from 1.35 million acres to 160,000 acres.

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Sept. 18, 2017 — The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other national media outlets obtain a leaked copy Zinke's memo to Trump detailing a list of recommendations for 10 monuments, including boundary revisions to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Oct. 27, 2017 — The White House says Trump will visit Utah in December for his official announcement on what changes will be made to the two monuments.

Nov. 28, 2017 — Hatch confirms Trump will visit Salt Lake City on Dec. 4 to announce reductions in the size of the two monuments.

Nov. 30, 2017 — Leaked documents and maps show Trump intends to reduce the size of the Bears Ears by 85 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante by half.