Judge won’t move lawsuits over Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has refused to move a series of lawsuits challenging President Trump’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

In a ruling handed down on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan denied a motion to transfer the lawsuits from Washington, D.C. to Utah.

“We are gratified by today’s decision by Judge Chutkan to keep these significant cases in federal district court in Washington, D.C. With this venue issue behind us we look forward to tackling the merits of President Trump’s unlawful decisions to dismantle Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments,” Stephen Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said in a statement.

A coalition of environmental and tribal groups sued shortly after President Trump signed an executive order last year shrinking the monuments in southern Utah. The U.S. government and the state of Utah wanted the litigation relocated to Salt Lake City, presumably where they might find friendlier legal turf. Native American and environmental groups opposed it.