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Protesters gather at Utah State Capitol, tell why they oppose Trump’s National Monument shrinking

Posted at 5:57 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-04 22:00:44-05

SALT LAKE CITY - On his trip to Utah, President Trump was welcomed by thousands of angry locals.

Heather Hale of Salt Lake City is one of many who braved the season's first snow, holding signs.

"The man has never spent a day in nature. How about he goes out and actually sees what he’s doing," said Hale.

The message, according to Nicole Croft, the Executive Director of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, is simple.

"The Utah people stand with their national monuments and these are really important places to Utahns and Americans," said Croft.

Inside the state capital, President Trump signed two executive orders, shrinking national monuments at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. An action that Virgil Johnson, Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservations, said goes against the wishes of the Native American tribes.

"This is our land. This is where we live and where we grow up and that’s why it's significant. Our land needs to be protected," said Johnson.

President trump said he’s doing what the people want, but these protesters aren’t buying it. Croft speculates it’s politically motivated.

“It’s a political favor for Orin Hatch, who still has sour grapes about how the grand staircase was designated 21 years ago which is a shame because it’s been a real benefit to our communities,” said Croft.

Ashley Soltysiak, Director of the Utah Sierra Club, thinks it’s financially motivated.

“We believe his motivations lie with special interests. There’s already an effort to put oil and gas leasing near bears ears national monument,” said Soltysiak.

No matter the motivation, Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said it’s wrong.

“Both Senator Hatch and President Trump are on the wrong side of history,” said Groene.

After demonstrating at the capital, they took their protests to the streets, blocking off the intersection of State Street and 100 South, determined to be heard.

“President Trump lacks the legal authority to take this action. It will be overturned. The fight really just starts today,” said Groene.

Several groups including the Sierra Club and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, plan to file suit in federal court to stop these executive orders in their tracks.