Interior head suggests reducing Bears Ears National Monument


"Bears Ears National Monument campaign is a cynical political stunt that, if successful, will deny grass roots Utah Navajo access to their sacred and spiritual grounds".

"We should be particularly disturbed by the fact that the same people who made this decision, the same people who chose to declare this national monument, apparently don't know the difference between the Bears Ears area, on the one hand, and Arches National Park, on the other hand", said an angry U.S. Senator Mike Lee in a Facebook post. And there is overwhelming support in California from both the public and state lawmakers, for the protection of all 27 national monuments under review - including seven in California. The act, which allows presidents to designate national monuments, was called an "egregious use of government power" by Trump.

Opponents of other sites are making similar plans after the Bears Ears decision, saying the designations often close areas to oil, gas and mineral development along with other uses.

Zinke toured Bears Ears last month on foot, horseback and helicopter and met with Utah Gov.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, said he doesn't believe the recommendation was respectable or responsible. He did not have an estimate on how much the monument could be reduced.

Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, said Zinke's recommendation was "nothing less than an attack on the future of all American monuments, parks and public lands", and was "against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Americans".

But Congress has not proven their ability to pass legislation to protect Bears Ears.

When he signed the executive order, Trump argued that past presidents abused their right to designate areas under the Antiquities Act.

"If you look at the Bears Ears as a whole, there's a lot more drop-dead gorgeous land than there are historic, prehistoric objects", Zinke continued, per the Post.

Zinke additionally recommended that President Donald Trump request congressional authority to enable tribal co-management of designated cultural areas. Bears Ears is too precious a place, and our cultures and values too dignified and worthy, to backtrack on the promises made in the Presidential Proclamation. Congress never passed a bill. When asked about the viability of passing such a bill, Zinke said the task would be easier now than it was with Obama in the White House.

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

But sadly, it appears the Department of the Interior intends to bow to pressure from a small group of extremists in Congress, who have always been promoting the takeover of public lands, while catering to the special interests of polluters.

Hillary Dessouky, general counsel for Patagonia, an outdoor sporting equipment company, said her employer, along with other environmental groups, would file suit should the president go along with Zinke's recommendations. "I encourage the president to take this recommendation seriously, and I applaud the secretary for his balanced and responsible proposal".

"I have talked to the Utah delegation", Zinke said.

The group called Zinke's recommendation "illegal" and meant "to turn back the clock one hundred years on tribal relations and Utah's economy".

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