Interior secretary recommends hacking up Bears Ears National Monument
Zinke’s plan follows Trump’s April executive order to review 27 national monuments.
On Monday, Zinke requested that Trump reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument and “revise the existing boundaries.” Under the new plan, Native American tribal officials will have the authority to co-manage “designated cultural resources.”
“The recommendations were not made in a bubble in Washington D.C.” They were requested after “we traveled by air, by car, by foot, and by horseback,” Zinke said.
Tribes, along with other agents of preservation around the state, had pressed the federal government to protect the 1.35 million acre land in the past, which Obama signed into protection under the 1906 Antiquities act in December 2016.
Even though Zinke has stated on the record that many tribes are happy with the new measures taking place, the Navajo nation responded that they haven’t been happy with the secretary since day one.
The designated area should cover “the smallest area compatible” with protecting the land, Zinke said. He then used this to justify his new plan for the territory that so many have fought to preserve in the past, due to graffiti and other damage in recent years.
I recommend the monument, especially the areas of significant cultural interest, be comanaged by the Tribal nations. https://t.co/OdIKxG7ZWQ— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) June 12, 2017
When he signed the executive order, Trump argued that past presidents abused their right to designate areas under the Antiquities Act. Conservation groups, however, have vowed to challenge Trump every step of the way as he begins to shrink the protected areas in Utah.
Bears Ears is only the first of a slew of protected lands to be evaluated.
Republican lawmakers in the state are enthusiastic about the president’s plans.
Congress will have to make a decision on how much land they will want to strip away from the protection of the federal government.