Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Trump outlines land reduction in Utah monuments, tribes prepare to sue

Trump outlines land reduction in Utah monuments, tribes prepare to sue

The plans would break Bears Ears into two national monuments and Grand Staircase-Escalante into three separate monuments.

The message comes after Trump announced Monday that he would shrink the size of two national monuments in Utah by approximately 2 million combined acres.

In addition to Trump, the lawsuit also names Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and acting director of the Bureau of Land Management Brian Steed as defendants. Using the same reasoning as for reducing the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Trump wants to cut down the approximately 1.35 million acres, designated as federally protected land by former President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016, by over 1.15 million acres, down to only 201,876 acres. What remains of the monument lands may be subdivided into multiple, isolated areas.

At least five Native American tribes announced they'll sue the president over the reduction of Bears Ears, a monument they consider sacred and important to their culture. "We will be fighting back immediately". While past presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect unique lands and cultural sites in America, Trump is instead mangling the law, opening this national monument to coal mining instead of protecting its scientific, historic, and wild heritage.

Trump's decision to scale back the size of those monuments marks the most aggressive presidential effort to roll back national monument protections in US history.

Zinke said Tuesday he would focus changes in Gold Butte on the site's water districts.

Trump said previous presidents overstepped their authority in declaring vast tracts of western lands off-limits, abusing the "purpose, spirit and intent" of a 1906 law known as the Antiquities Act.

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Trump, he says, "listened to the local people, even though they weren't millions of voters, only 15,000 people in our community".

Zinke also has recommended allowing logging at a newly designated monument in ME and urges more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

REI changed its homepage to feature a large photo of Bears Ears National Monument with the words "We ❤ Our Public Lands" written across it.

Unlike national parks, which are established by Congress, the Antiquities Act allows national monuments to be designated either by Congress or the president.

"More than 150 years ago, the federal government removed our ancestors from Bears Ears at gunpoint and sent them on the Long Walk", Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred said in statement.

Outside, protesters held signs saying "Trump a monumental mistake" and "Tiny hands off our lands".

U.S. President Donald Trump autographs the hat of Bruce Adams, chairman of the San Juan County Commission, after Trump signed an executive order at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., December 4, 2017.

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