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Interior Secretary calls for reducing size of Bears Ears National Monument

Interior Secretary calls for reducing size of Bears Ears National Monument

Zinke touted the opportunity for the integration of tribal co-management as the Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo and two different contingents of the Ute tribes all have ancestral ties to the region and have long maintained their cultural practices, combined with the presence of significant artifacts on the lands, warrant protection.

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

"I'm pleased to say the recommendations I'm going to provide, I think, are in the interests of Utah, the tribes and the United States".

Several tribal leaders balked at that characterization, saying they weren't briefed on the plan and consider the idea to be an attempt to temper their criticism.

Tribes and conservation groups argue that this is a potentially illegal act and that Trump does not have the authority to eliminate sections of a national monument.

Squillace, however, said Congress does have the authority to alter the size of the monument, or get rid of it altogether, and to repeal or modify the Antiquities Act itself. "It's not up for trade".

The report, provided to CNN, suggests revising aspects of Bears Ears' boundaries but does not detail where those changes would be made. "Protection of these lands is non negotiable".

In a memo sent Saturday to President Trump, Zinke recommends that Trump use his "appropriate authority" under the Antiquities Act to revise the almost 1.5 million-acre protected area to remove some land that shouldn't be in the monument.

Republicans have singled out former president Barack Obama's designation of Bears Ears, calling it an unnecessary layer of federal control that will close off new development.

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"This is an undeniable attack on our national monuments and America's public lands", Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, said in a statement.

Despite broad public support from Native American tribes, business leaders, the outdoor recreation industry, conservationists, many elected officials and more than a million Americans from coast to coast, the Trump administration is recommending actions that could threaten the future of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

The department will also review the designations attached to five marine reserves including the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which is the largest such marine reserve in the world.

Obama used the 1906 Antiquities Act to decree the national monument as one of his last acts as president, over the loud objections of nearly all the state's Republican lawmakers. If the president decides to usurp Congress's authority and shrink the boundaries on his own, Patagonia will take legal action to defend our public lands.

Good4Utah reporter Glen Mills spoke with U.S. Secretary Zinke when he visited the monument back in May.

In a statement, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, called the move a "win-win".

Noting the contentious nature of the monument designation, Zinke called on Congress to approve a land-management bill for Bears Ears and other federal lands.

Utah rancher Zeb Dalton was among monument critics who wanted Zinke to recommend rescinding the entire monument. He said 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".

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