Zinke, Patagonia Trade Harsh Words Over National Monuments

07 December, 2017, 18:00 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Donald Trump To Have Purpose in Utah Hills and Their People

With more monuments potentially on the chopping block, what happens now with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will set the tone for the future of protecting land in the United States, and the power that a president can yield in privatizing them. The suit, which is likely to provoke a prolonged court battle, claims Trump can not legally revoke the land's monument status.

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 lawsuit argues that Trump exceeded his authority by overturning congressional legislation that added land to the monument after Clinton's initial declaration.

I've reduced the size of the monuments "because some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington".

Outside Trump's announcement Monday, roughly 3,000 protesters lined up near the state Capitol.

"Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away", President Trump said.

Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced from almost 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1 million acres (1,569 square miles).

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, will be reduced from almost 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1,003,863 acres (1,569 square miles). In April he ordered Zinke to identify which of 27 monuments designated by past presidents should be rescinded or resized.

Utah's state House of Representatives passed a resolution this year urging that the state try to buy the Bears Ears National Monument from the federal government and manage it itself. Hatch and other state Republican leaders pushed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land.

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The reasoning behind the move is to designate as protected "the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects of scientific or historic interest", and the proclamation also opens the newly public lands to "disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and location, entry, and patent under the mining laws".

Trump painted the decision as giving government-held land back to communities and ending Washington overreach.

"Public lands will once again be for public use", Trump said to cheers.

Hatch, who introduced President Trump, said that when "you talk, this president listens" and that President Trump promised to help him with "federal overreach".

In a statement Monday, Heidi McIntosh from Earthjustice's Rocky Mountains office said: "President Trump has perpetrated a awful violation of America's public lands and heritage by going after this dinosaur treasure trove". In the largest-ever reduction of a national monument, the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah is being shrunk by 85%. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat he has derisively nicknamed "Pocahontas" for her claim to have Native American heritage.

"The goal of the designations had been to convert multiple-use public lands into de facto national parks and wilderness areas, preventing traditional uses such as recreation, grazing, and any other economic uses of natural resources", says R.J. Smith, a senior fellow at the D.C. -based National Center for Public Policy Research. "The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation, but to many tribes in the region", Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement to the press.

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, spoke on a call with reporters on Tuesday.

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