Interior head suggests reducing Bears Ears National Monument

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Herbert and other Utah Republicans oppose Obama's designation of the Bears Ears National Monument. Zinke recommended that the new national monument in Utah be reduced in size and said Congress should step in to designate how selected areas of the 1.3 million-acre site are managed.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke capped a four day "listening tour" across Utah with a report sent to President Donald Trump Saturday that recommended scaling back the Bears Ears National Monument (BENM).

In a memo sent Saturday to President Trump, Zinke recommends that Trump use his "appropriate authority" under the Antiquities Act to revise the almost 1.5 million-acre protected area to remove some land that shouldn't be in the monument.

"[Zinke's recommendation] is positive news for the State of Utah and local communities affected by the Bears Ears monument designation". The order directs a special review of over 20 National Monuments designated since 1996, which could lead to the elimination of protections for millions of acres of public land, including Bears Ears and the newly expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon.

The Navajo Nation and Hopi and Ute tribes pushed for the Bears Ears declaration, and said it would help protect cultural and sacred sites.

Zinke added that the administration has enormous respect for tribes and their "sovereignty, respect and self-determination".

But several tribal leaders who worked to win the monument designation bashed Zinke's decision, vowing legal action if Trump accepts the recommendation to downsize the monument.




"This report shows that the administration doesn't value the Bears Ears, the tribes and the million-plus people who wrote in to support it", Udall said. "It's not up for trade", said Natalie Landreth, a lawyer for the Native American Rights Fund. "For the Administration to then ignore that broad showing of support and recommend reducing the boundaries of Bears Ears is both disappointing and baffling".

Opponents of the decision said it was a federal "land grab" - even though the land was already federally managed - and argued it would stymie economic activity. "I find that the Bear Ears National Monument does not fully conform with the policies set forth" in Trump's executive order.

"The secretary's report is nonsense", Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, and the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee said in a statement.

A public comment period for Bears Ears and the other national monuments will be open until July 10, to be followed by Zinke's final recommendations to Trump.

"Coloradans should rid themselves of any harbored hopes that President Trump or his loyal subordinates like Secretary Zinke will somehow be moderate on public lands issues".

His report drew immediate criticism, including from groups that questioned the legality of reversing a prior presidential action under the act and claimed the entire matter is more about politics, mineral development and money than anything else. His review will look at how the national monument designation impacts the local economy and recreation in the area.

Rather than designating a vast monument, as Obama did, "it would have been more appropriate to identify and separate the areas that have significant objects to be protected to meet the purposes of the Act", Zinke's report said. But it signals that the administration does not plan to completely rescind President Obama's creation of the Bears Ears monument late a year ago in a proclamation.

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