Now that President Barack Obama has declared the Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah, a plurality of Utahns say incoming President Donald Trump should not take steps to undo the monument.
As UtahPolicy.com reported first on Wednesday, President Obama set aside 1.35 million acres for the Bears Ears Monument through the Antiquities Act, which preserves the land from development or energy exploration.
Rep. Rob Bishop has argued that incoming President Donald Trump could reverse the designation, although that path has never been tested. Bishop has held talks with Trump's transition team about possibly undoing any monument designation made by Obama or even other presidents. That could conceivably include the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument created by President Clinton. President Obama has declared or expanded national monuments 29 times under the Antiquities Act during his presidency.
Utahns are divided on whether President-elect Trump should undo the monument designation when he takes office. 46% say he should not reverse Bears Ears, while another 40% say he should. 14% are undecided.
The survey was conducted for UtahPolicy.com by Dan Jones and Associates before the monument designation was made.
Utah's congressional delegation, Gov. Gary Herbert, and Utah lawmakers have all-but-declared war on the new monument designation.
Sen. Mike Lee said in a statement, "This arrogant act by a lame duck president will not stand. I will work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation.”
Gov. Gary Herbert blasted the move on Wednesday, saying "As outraged as many people are with today’s decision, we know how to challenge this action appropriately through the many administrative, legal and legislative avenues available to us. We will aggressively pursue these options."
A UtahPolicy.com survey from early November found that 60% of Utahns opposed the creation of a Bears Ears National Monument, while just 33% were in favor. That number has remained relatively consistent in our polling over the last year.
Now that Bears Ears is a done deal, the fight will center over whether it can be undone. Sen. Orrin Hatch has warned that the confirmation of Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke as Trump's Interior Secretary could hinge on whether he feels monument designations can be undone.
Whether Trump should take that unprecedented step is divided sharply along partisan lines in Utah, with Republicans favoring nullifying Bears Ears while Democrats are steadfastly opposed.
- 56% of Utah Republicans say Trump should reverse the Bears Ears Monument when he takes office, while just 24% say he should not. 21% are undecided.
- A whopping 92% of Democrats say Trump should not undo Bears Ears, with 75% saying he should "definitely not" reverse the decision. Just 5% say he should change the designation.
Unaffiliated voters in Utah come down on the side of leaving the monument in place once Trump takes office by a 2-1 margin. 60% say Trump should not undo Bears Ears while 30% say he should. 10% are undecided.
There is a religious divide over undoing Bears Ears, with devout Mormons wanting to undo the monument and everyone else wanting to keep it.
- 53% of "very active" Mormons say Trump should undo the monument after he takes the oath of office in January.
- Half of "somewhat active" members of the LDS Church say Trump should leave Bears Ears alone.
- 56% of "not active" Mormons say Bears Ears should stay after Trump takes office.
- 64% of Catholics say Trump should not undo the designation
- 67% of Protestants feel Trump should keep his hands off of Bears Ears.
The Dan Jones & Associates poll was conducted December 8-12, 2016 among 614 Utah voters. It has a margin of error +/- 3.95%