SALT LAKE CITY — President Trump’s call to review 24 national monuments established by three former presidents puts in limbo protections on large swaths of land that are home to ancient cliff dwellings, towering sequoias, deep canyons and ocean habitats where seals, whales and sea turtles roam.

Trump and other critics say presidents have lost sight of the original purpose of the law created by President Theodore Roosevelt that was designed to protect particular historical or archaeological sites rather than wide expanses. Here’s a quick look at five of the monuments on the list:

• Bears Ears National Monument:

The creation of the 1.3 million-acre monument in December marked a victory for Native American tribes and conservationists and a blow to Utah Republican leaders who campaigned hard to prevent a designation they contend is a layer of unnecessary federal control that hurts local economies by closing the area to new energy development.

Tucked between existing national parks and the Navajo Nation, the monument is on land considered sacred to a coalition of tribes and is home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites.

• Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument:


Designated by President Barack Obama in September 2016, the Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument consists of nearly 5,000 square miles of underwater canyons and mountains off the New England coast. The designation was widely praised by environmentalists as a way to protect important species and habitat for whales and sea turtles while reducing the toll of climate change.

The designation closed the area to commercial fishermen.

• Giant Sequoia National Monument:

In a decision praised by environmentalists but scorned by loggers, President Bill Clinton created this monument in 2000 covering about 328,000 acres of land in central California where the giant sequoia grows naturally. It expanded the number of groves protected, adding to sequoias already safeguarded in Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Park.

• Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument:

This remote monument northwest of Hawaii’s main islands was created by President George W. Bush in 2006 and was quadrupled in size last year by President Obama. The nearly 583,000-square-mile safe zone for tuna, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and thousands of other species is the world’s largest marine protected area, more than twice the size of Texas.


Obama pointed to the zone’s diverse ecology and cultural significance to Native Hawaiian and early Polynesian culture as reasons for expanding the monument.

• Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument:

The oldest monument on the list, President Clinton created the monument in southern Utah in 1996 by signing a declaration at the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It was lauded by environmentalists for preserving scenic cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and arches. Utah resident Robert Redford appeared at the ceremony with Clinton.

But in heavily Republican Utah, the move was viewed as a sneaky example of federal overreach that still irks the political establishment 20 years later. It closed off to development one of the country’s largest known coal reserves.

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