Plan to name Utah highway after Trump clears hurdle

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A plan to name a Utah highway after President Donald Trump to recognize his contentious decision to shrink two sprawling national monuments got a nod of approval from a panel of state lawmakers on Monday.

Republican Rep. Mike Noel is proposing the idea that’s sparked hundreds of emails to lawmakers. “President Trump cares about the public lands. President Trump’s family cares about the public lands and he cares about Utah and what we’re thinking,” he said.

Native American tribes and environmentalists said the monuments protected rich natural and archaeological resources, but Republican state leaders said they limited what can be done with the millions of acres they encompass.

The Sierra Club said Trump’s move was a large, concerted attack on public lands and Trump isn’t worthy of the honor. “I don’t think people are going to be willing to drive on a road with his name on it,” said Wendy Garvin, with the Utah Progressive Caucus.

The proposal would rename National Parks Highway, which overlaps several roads connecting well-known parks like Zion, Arches and Bryce. It passed a legislative committee in a 9-2 vote and now heads to the House floor.

Trump in December downsized the Bears Ears National Monument by about 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly half. Trump said he was responding to what he has condemned as a “massive federal land grab” by the government under Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The outdoor retailer Patagonia and a coalition of Native American tribes are suing, calling it the largest elimination of protected land in American history.

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