Interior secretary seeks to reduce size of Utah preserve

  • Interior secretary seeks to reduce size of Utah preserve

Interior secretary seeks to reduce size of Utah preserve

Zinke's recommendation to President Trump, announced Monday, is preliminary.

"Rather than designating an area encompassing nearly 1.5 million acres as a national monument, 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, including that the area reserved be limited to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects", Zinke wrote. This recommendation reflects a balance of our shared priorities of protecting this land and the antiquities that are found on it while still preserving local involvement, and taking into consideration the needs of the local communities. Most large public lands protection bills have stalled in a polarized Congress dating back to the Clinton administration. "I find that the Bear Ears National Monument does not fully conform with the policies set forth" in Trump's executive order.

On April 20, Senator Hatch traveled to San Juan County and spoke to local stakeholders about the Bears Ears monument designation.

Zinke, who emphasized (today) that "the recommendations were not made in a bubble in Washington DC" but determined after "we traveled by air, by vehicle, by foot and by horseback", said that the current boundaries do not accord with the 1906 law's provision that any designation be confined to "the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected".

Instead, more eyes will likely be on Zinke on Wednesday, when he'll tour Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

"The Bears Ears National Monument contains some objects that are appropriate for protection under the act", Zinke wrote, referencing rock art and Native American ceremonial sites and dwellings.

Sec. Zinke added, "Co-management will be absolutely key going forward, and I recommend that the monument, and especially the areas of significant cultural interest, be co-managed by the Tribal nations".

Because of public pressure from Republicans in Utah, Trump expedited the review of Bears Ears.

But Zinke, a Republican, said Monday he's confident that won't be the case in 2017, with the GOP in control of both chambers and the White House.

The report, provided to CNN, suggests revising aspects of Bears Ears' boundaries but does not detail where those changes would be made.

"The Secretary's recommendation isn't about doing what's best for Utah".

Conservation groups, meanwhile, have called Trump's effort to alter existing national monuments illegal and irresponsible, and have vowed to challenge him in court.

It seems all but certain that tribes and the environmental groups will sue if the administration does shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears.

Despite broad public support from Native American tribes, business leaders, the outdoor recreation industry, conservationists, many elected officials and more than a million Americans from coast to coast, the Trump administration is recommending actions that could threaten the future of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.