Sec. Zinke's recommendation is to shrink Bears Ears

The great barrier of Comb Ridge forms the east margin of the Bears Ears National Monument

In fact, Zinke's recommendation comes just 45 days after Trump's controversial executive order to review up to 27 national monuments with an eye toward shrinking their boundaries or rescinding them all together.

Based on limited case law, a couple of opinions from attorneys general, plus the Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976, the legal ground would seem to favor advocates of keeping Trump from reducing the size of Bears Ears as designated by Obama under the authority of the 111-year-old Antiquities Act.

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.

"The review shows that 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" the secretary's report reads. The preliminary report is the first step of a larger review of more than two dozen national monuments that protect US public lands, mostly in the West.

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.

Zinke said a final recommendation will be made after all the other monuments have been reviewed.

Because of public pressure from Republicans in Utah, Trump expedited the review of Bears Ears. "It doesn't even explain what alleged problem this review is trying to solve", Grijalva's statement said.

Which is why Zinke says he'll be pushing Congress, not Trump, to do exactly that, modify Bears Ears.




He indicated that the actual Bears Ears geological structure, numerous historic tribal dwellings and historic artifacts in proximity to the structure, and the area of Newspaper Rocks and north would all likely be kept as national monument land.

He said he hopes the president takes the recommendation to reduce the size of Bears Ears seriously.

Many national monuments have later been declared national parks.

Conservation groups that were stung by the recommendation are trying to rally public support to fully preserve the monuments but expect they will have to resort to a protracted legal fight if President Donald Trump eventually downsizes or eliminates monument designations.

On a conference call with reporters, Zinke said the recommendation in this interim report is to revise the existing boundaries of Bears Ears.

"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. "The antiquities act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water and it's time we ended this abusive practice". Tribal representatives and others worked tirelessly to achieve national monument protections, so urgently needed to end the looting, vandalism and grave-robbing that has plagued the region for years.

But on December 28, 2016, the announcement Utah's GOP leaders feared for months came from former President Barack Obama in the final days of his administration.

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