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The Consequences of Trump's Attempt to Reduce Bears Ears National Monument by 85 Percent

Drone footage and 3d models reveal the stakes in an ongoing legal controversy surrounding the Trump administration's attempt to undo the Obama administration's use of the Antiquities Act to create the Bears Ears National Monument.
April 4, 2019, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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A Washington Post investigative team, Joe Fox, Lauren Tierney, Seth Blanchard, and Gabriel Florit, has published a large, interactive feature investigation into the Trump administration's 2017 decision to reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah by more than 1.1 million acres.

Some Utah lawmakers and local residents the Trump administration's decision to reduce the size of Bear's Ears National Monument by 85 percent, but the decision "also followed a uranium firm’s concerted lobbying, an effort led by Andrew Wheeler, who now heads the Environmental Protection Agency."

Given the dubious motivations behind the decision, the Post team uses drone footage of to investigate whether the Trump administration kept its promise to protect the "important objects of scientific or historic interest" in the area surrounding the reduced national monument. In fact, the investigation finds many such "important objects of scientific or historic interest" in the areas located outside of the revised boundaries.

The interactive feature includes 3D models created from the drone footage to show Pueblo cliff dwellings built 1,000 years ago. The back and forth with the federal government, still unresolved, poses additional threats to the architectural record found in the area as detailed in the story. There's the environmental risk posed by the potential of developers seeking to extract the oil, coal, and uranium deposits that would be accessible if the Trump administration's actions hold up in court, as detailed in 2017 coverage by Laris Karklis, Bonnie Berkowitz, and Tim Meko.

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Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 in The Washington Post
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