Interior head suggests reducing Bears Ears National Monument

Ausiliatrice Cristiano
Giugno 14, 2017

Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be reduced and "right sized" in an interim report to the White House on the land protected late in President Barack Obama's term by his power under the Antiquities Act.

Experts questioned the president's authority to change a standing monument's designation, but they said Congress has full authority to modify, revoke or rescind a national monument.

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".

He would only say that the Bears Ears formation itself and areas where high densities of dwellings, artifacts, petroglyphs, cultural and archeological sites would be protected, as well as the area north of Newspaper Rock. President Trump had called for a review of that decision, and Zinke's recommendation is being watched closely as an indicator of how the Trump administration will treat public acres.

In a release following the call, Zinke said, "Designating a monument that - including state land - encompasses nearly 1.5 million-acres where multiple-use management is hindered or prohibited is not the best use of the land".

"For Navajo nation this is really about the preservation of our way of life as Navajo people", said Ethel Branch, Attorney General for the Navajo Nation and Navajo tribal member. "The man charged with protecting public lands just told the public their voices don't count".

Zinke could also suggest trimming the monument - narrowly or largely - and opening up some areas of the region to possible oil and gas drilling or coal mining. We can not and will not stand idly by and let it happen. In early May, Zinke produced a list of 27 monuments for possible adjustment, including the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, in southern New Mexico, and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, in the northern part of the state. The recommendation was accompanied by an interim report to the president with a final report to be made later this year. "Overall, in talking to tribal leadership... they're pretty happy and willing to work with us", he said.

Zinke also recommended that tribes be allowed to co-manage "cultural areas" within the resized monument - a nod to Native Americans who had lobbied for protections for the territory - and that Congress review conservation policies in the area.

We must stand by Bears Ears. The Public Lands Initiative, a bill sponsored by Utah Reps.

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop praised Zinke's announcement in a statement obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

After an expedited review of the monument, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took a big step toward removingits federal protection.

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. It doesn't reference any maps or specify legislative language.

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