If the Trump administration, Ryan Zinke and our Utah representatives wanted us to truly trust them then they would stop doing literally everything they could to undermine their own words. The latest: a leak from Trump’s White House detailing Interior Secretary Zinke’s monument review in which he recommends downsizing both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments.

This monument review was never about democratic process; if it were, it would have taken more than a few scant months to complete. It wasn’t about inclusivity; if it were, Zinke would have at least sat down at a table with the tribes, even if he had no intention of actually doing anything with their information. And it certainly wasn’t about transparency, or Zinke would have held at least a press conference to inform the public of what we already knew. What is there to lose, besides credibility? Why keep it a secret?

I knew it was coming; so did everyone else. We could tell by the lack of time Secretary Zinke spent with tribes that have a vested interest in the Bears Ears Monument. Our hunches were confirmed with photos of Zinke gazing upon a coal seam in the Grand Staircase, “listening and learning,” according to his Twitter feed. I wonder how much he learned in those closed-door meetings with Kane and Garfield county officials.

All this seems to be counterproductive to the democratically inclusive image that the Utah Legislature, Rep. Rob Bishop and our other Utah representatives, our Utah senators and the Trump administration itself had hoped to construct around their own policies. But I suppose they don’t really need to seem either democratic or inclusive anymore — not that they ever did. Utah is majority Republican, as is the U.S. Congress and the White House, of course. No democratic diversion necessary.

About a year and a half ago, I met with my representative, Rob Bishop, to discuss public lands issues. When I told him I didn't like his Public Lands Initiative, he assured me he despised the Antiquities Act. "It requires the president's designation to be a surprise," he told me, unaware of his own future irony to be displayed in a recent Deseret News article by Amy Joi O'Donoghue ("Leaked 'memo' details possible monument changes at Bears Ears, Grand Staircase," Sept. 18): "'The fact this was leaked is troubling and merits an immediate and thorough investigation,' Bishop said in a statement. 'The president should have the time to evaluate the secretary’s review and develop actions without the encumbrance of incomplete information being leaked to the press.'"

Or the encumbrance of transparency and public discourse, I guess.

In the end, I’m not sure where this really falls on the political or ethical spectrum, but I can say at the very least that I’m no longer surprised.

Josh Boling is a teacher and naturalist from Logan.