Original

boundary

UTAH

Detail

New

delineation

Indian

Creek

70

15

UTAH

Escalante

Canyons

Grand

Staircase

Kaiparowits

Shash Jaa

Glen Canyon

Dam

ARIZONA

Grand Staircase-

Escalante

Bears

Ears

Was: 1.86 million acres

Now: 1 million acres

Was: 1.35 million acres

Now: 201,876 acres

Original boundary

New delineation

UTAH

Arches

N.P.

70

Detail

UTAH

Moab

Capitol

Reef

N.P.

Canyonlands

N.P.

15

Indian

Creek

Original Grand Staircase-

Escalante boundary

Escalante

Canyons

Bryce

Canyon

N.P.

Blanding

Shash

Jaa

Glen Canyon

Nat’l Rec.

Area

Kaiparowits

Grand

Staircase

Lake Powell

Glen Canyon

Dam

ARIZONA

Bears Ears:

Grand Staircase-Escalante:

Was: 1.86 million acres

Now: 1 million acres

Was: 1.35 million acres

Now: 201,876 acres

Original

boundary

70

15

Arches

N.P.

UTAH

New

delineation

UTAH

Moab

Capitol

Reef

N.P.

Detail

Canyonlands

N.P.

Indian

Creek

Original Grand Staircase-

Escalante boundary

Escalante

Canyons

Bryce

Canyon

N.P.

Original

Bears Ears

boundary

Blanding

Shash

Jaa

Glen Canyon

Nat’l Rec.

Area

Kaiparowits

Grand

Staircase

COLO.

Lake Powell

Kanab

Monument

Valley

Glen Canyon

Dam

N.M.

ARIZONA

Grand Staircase-Escalante:

Bears Ears:

Was: 1.86 million acres

Now: 1 million acres

Was: 1.35 million acres

Now: 201,876 acres

President Trump drastically reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah on Monday, potentially opening about 2 million acres of public land to mineral extraction and other activities in a state in which about 65 percent of all land is federally owned. The sites, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, contain rich troves of archaeological and paleontological finds in addition to large deposits of coal, uranium, oil and gas.

LAND OWNERSHIP IN UTAH

Federal: 64.5%

State: 10%

Tribal: 5%

Other: 21%

(Includes county, municipal agencies

and private groups)

50 MILES

Great

Salt

Lake

80

Salt Lake City

70

Moab

15

Federal lands administered by:

Bureau of Land Management

Department of Defense

National Park/Forest Service

Tribal nation

National Monument

LAND OWNERSHIP IN UTAH

Federal: 64.5%

State: 10%

Tribal: 5%

Other: 21%*

Federal lands administered by:

Bureau of Land Management

Department of Defense

15

National Park/Forest Service

Great

Tribal nation

Salt

National Monument

Lake

Salt Lake City

80

Utah

Lake

15

50 MILES

70

Moab

Escalante

Canyons

Indian

Creek

Kaiparowits

Shash

Jaa

Grand

Staircase

15

*Includes county, municipal agencies and private groups

The day after Trump’s announcement, Utah’s governor and several House Republicans said the changes would not lead to wider energy development. One, Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), proposed banning mineral extraction within the original boundaries of Bears Ears.

“The idea that we’re going to give these over to oil and gas companies is a false narrative,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Parts of Bears Ears are rich with oil, gas and uranium potential

OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT

POTENTIAL

High

Medium

Low

Original

Bears Ears

boundary

UTAH

Indian

Creek

Detail

Shash

Jaa

25 MILES

URANIUM DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL

High

Medium

Low

Uranium mines

Indian

Creek

Original

Bears Ears

boundary

Shash

Jaa

Daneros Mine area

URANIUM DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL

OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT

POTENTIAL

High

High

Medium

Original

Bears Ears

boundary

Medium

Low

Low

Uranium mines

UTAH

Indian

Creek

Indian

Creek

Detail

Shash

Jaa

Shash

Jaa

Daneros Mine area

25 MILES

OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL

URANIUM DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL

Medium

High

Low

High

Low

Medium

Uranium mines

Original

Bears Ears

boundary

UTAH

Indian

Creek

Indian

Creek

Detail

Shash

Jaa

Shash

Jaa

White

Mesa

Mill

Daneros Mine area

25 MILES

Bureau of Land Management maps show high-to-moderate oil and gas development potential in much of the original Bears Ears footprint, which encompasses more than 100,000 archaeological and Native American cultural sites, such as cliff dwellings and ancient petroglyphs. Most of the areas thought to have the most oil and gas — and the few existing drilling leases — are outside the new boundaries, according to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

The Red Canyon area of Bears Ears is known for its Triassic Period fossils, and it also contains extensive uranium deposits. Uranium mines were humming around southeastern Utah during the Cold War but have shuttered in recent years as nuclear power has fallen out of favor. Dormant mines and mining leases dot the area. The owners of the now-closed Daneros Mine, which lies three miles from the old Bears Ears border, have planned a large expansion that is opposed by the Navajo Nation and environmental groups. Ore would be trucked 62 miles through the monument to White Mesa, the country’s only operating uranium mill.

A group of House Republicans proposed prohibiting mineral extraction in the original Bears Ears monument area.

Grand Staircase-Escalante sits atop Utah’s largest coal field

COAL DEPOSITS

25 MILES

Original Grand Staircase-

Escalante boundary

UTAH

Escalante

Canyons

Detail

Kaiparowits

Grand

Staircase

Lake

Powell

ARIZONA

COAL DEPOSITS

Original Grand Staircase-

Escalante boundary

UTAH

Detail

Escalante

Canyons

Kaiparowits

Grand

Staircase

Lake Powell

25 MILES

ARIZONA

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that 62 billion tons of coal lies in the Kaiparowits Plateau, an area that was within Grand Staircase-Escalante and that is important to paleontologists for its Mesozoic Era past. It is Utah’s biggest coal field, but there are no mining leases within it. In 1996, the year President Bill Clinton designated the monument, the federal government bought out the 18 existing leases.

The original Grand Staircase-Escalante area also contains limited oil and gas reserves and about 50 authorized oil and gas leases, according to the wilderness protection group. Most lie outside the new borders.

The sun sets over Bears Ears National Monument (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Thirteenth-century pueblo ruins in Bears Ears National Monument. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

About this story

Land-ownership data via University of Utah, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, and U.S. Geological Survey. Resource data is from the BLM Monticello Field Office and the Utah State Geographic Information Database, distributed via the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

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