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Trump tells senator he'll shrink Bears Ears National Monument

Published October 27, 2017
The 2016 Beehive Ride in Grand Staircase-Escalante NM.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (BRAIN) — Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch said Friday that President Trump told him in a phone call that he plans to take action to shrink Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Many cyclists and other outdoor recreationalists nationally have opinions on the monument status; but it's not clear if changes for Bears Ears would have direct impact on cycling activity or the bike business.

President Obama established the monument in the final weeks of his presidency. Efforts to reverse or modify the designation have been opposed by many in the outdoor industry, and the issue was central to Outdoor Retailer's decision to move its trade show out of Utah. Interbike also ruled out holding its show in Utah over the same issue.

Trump asked for a review of the status of several national monuments, including Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. Several groups have already said they plan lawsuits to oppose any move by Trump to reverse or modify the monument designations made under the Antiquities Act.

Opponents of removing the status or reducing the size of the monuments cite concerns about the protection of natural and cultural resources. Several tribal groups say Bears Ears protects sacred sites. However some local groups say the monument designation could restrict some traditional uses and curtail economic development and some elected state and local officials say they prefer local management over federal. They say Bears Ears, in particular, is larger than necessary and say Obama rushed through the designation in his final days in office to avoid a public hearing process. 

Impact to bike business?

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are remote but are occasionally destinations for road and gravel cyclists, and several bike tour companies have permits to run tours through each area. A northern wing of the Bears Ears Monument extends to just south of the mountain bike destination of Moab, bordering Dead Horse State Park, although the bulk of the monument is far south and west of Moab. Last year, Bicycle Retailer participated in a ride that went through Grand Staircase-Escalante on dirt and paved roads. Those road trips are unlikely to change regardless of Trump's decision.

Currently there are few singletrack mountain bike trails inside either monument and with few population centers nearby, that is unlikely to change. Each monument develops its own management plan, which may or may not include mountain bike access or other uses. There are several national monuments with singletrack trail systems open to mountain bikes, including Fort Ord National Monument, which is used for part of the Sea Otter Classic. Probably because of the uncertainty in Washington, Bears Ears managers have not even started the process of developing a plan.

More information: Salt Lake Tribune article.

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