Ryan Zinke Recommends Trump Change 10 National Monuments

Lester Mason
December 7, 2017

The California-based company, which is known for its activism, joins a growing number of organizations questioning the Trump administration's authority to slash the areas covered by Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument.

When he was a congressman, for example, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke voted for the Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act, which would transfer management of millions of acres of federal land to a board appointed by state governors. He plans to downsize the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half to 1,569 square miles, divided into three areas.

Patagonia's message included illustrations showing what part of the two monuments will no longer be protected and facts about protected lands, noting that "90 percent of USA public lands are open to oil and gas leasing and development; only 10 percent are protected for recreation, conservation and wildlife". The move drastically reduces the country's newest national monument, formed in 2016 by then President Obama.

Grand Staircase-Escalante will become three separate monuments - Grand Staircase, Escalante Canyon, and Kaiparowits - totaling more than 1 million acres.

Tribal leaders, environmentalists and others argue the president does not have that authority and his move jeopardizes a wealth of Native American artifacts, dinosaur fossils and rugged spaces. The company said it has "always viewed public lands as our special interest", company spokeswoman Corley Kenna said.

This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history. He told reporters the land targeted by Trump remains protected because it is still under federal control.

According the management plan, the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument would not affect existing oil, gas, and mining operations, but it would prohibit new mineral leases, mining claims, prospecting or exploration activities, and oil, gas, and geothermal leases.

"Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington", President Trump said. The White House didn't respond Monday to a CNN request for comment about legal action against Trump's decision.

Trump announced his decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Salt Lake City on Monday.

"My sense was more people who have a sense of the sacred and for spirituality need to go out and see this land, be on this land, be in communion with this land and the wildlife and everything that's around it and the local communities, because when you are in that place, there is no doubt it is an incredibly sacred and powerful place", Black said.

A coalition of the Hopi, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni tribes and Navajo Nation sued late Monday to challenge the Bears Ears reduction. The company changed its home page Monday in protest of the decision.

"As news rolled out today, the Escalante & Boulder Chamber of Commerce, like our friends and neighbors, are just learning the specifics to the potentially illegal move to reduce the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument boundaries, while establishing a new National Park?"

The coalition's lawsuit to protect Bears Ears is expected to be filed by Tuesday.

Zinke released a months-old report Tuesday making recommendations to President Donald Trump on the fate of national monuments that previous presidents had established or expanded.

The issue has never been settled in court. Robert Keiter, a professor of law and director of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land Resources and the Environment at the University of Utah, says "there's quite a reasonable chance that it could ultimately end up before the Supreme Court" in three or four years.

A ruling in favor of the government might put boundaries of national monuments in flux. It earned him cheers from Republican leaders in Utah who lobbied him to undo protections by Democratic presidents that they considered overly broad. "If these areas deserve national park status, then the entire monument area deserves the same status".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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