Trimming monument in Utah pleases Republicans, angers tribes

Marcus Newton
June 14, 2017

Ryan Zinke, the USA interior secretary, has recommended to Donald Trump that Bears Ears national monument in Utah be reduced in size to the "smallest area compatible" with its conservation.

Zinke called the Bears Ears area "drop-dead gorgeous country" that merits some protection on Monday in explaining his recommendation, but said the boundaries should be more narrowly focused around key cultural sites. In his report, Zinke suggests that President Trump "revise the existing boundaries" of the monument, which was designated by President Obama after many years of hard work by a diverse coalition of tribal and environmental groups.

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Bears Ears National Monument is 1.35 Million acres in size.

While Zinke wasn't explicit in specifying to what extent he believed Bears Ears should be reduced, the reaction to his recommendation to the President was immediate from the outdoor community, with many criticizing the fact that the decision to resize Bears Ears goes against a majority of the public input the government has received on the matter.

And now Zinke-with a whole lot of developers and drillers and their marionettes in the Utah state legislature agreeing with him-wants to remove more ancestral Indian land from the monument in order to make it available to whatever private owners wish to do with it. Obama did so after the failure of the Utah delegation to pass their own legislation to further preserve the federal lands around the Bears Ears region.

Zinke toured Bears Ears last month on foot, horseback and helicopter and met with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders who opposed Obama's December designation of Bears Ears monument.

According to Filfred, if congress attempts to reduce or change the Monument designation, the Navajo, Ute, Zuni and Hopi tribes will bring formal litigation.

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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. "Protection of these lands is non negotiable". The report was to produce recommendations on whether to alter the status of Bears Ears, "and other such designations as the Secretary determines to be appropriate for inclusion in the interim report".

Monday morning CNN reported Secretary Zinke will be delaying his decision.

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.

The deadline for Zinke's recommendation on Bears Ears is June 10, though an Interior Department official did not say when the recommendation would be made public. Instead, Zinke said some of the sprawling, 1.3 million acre site should be designated for conservation or recreation, categories that are less restrictive than monuments.

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

The report also counseled that Congress allow tribal co-management of cultural portions and define how specific areas should be categorized and managed.

Be Civil - It's OK to have a difference in opinion but there's no need to be a jerk.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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