Zinke against eliminating Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante nat’l monuments; may suggest downsizing

Photo: Flickr/Bears Ears by Brewbrooks

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 24, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has completed his review of national monuments, and will not recommend any of them be eliminate.

Zinke told the Associated Press that boundary adjustments will be included in recommendations he will make to Pres. Donald Trump.

Zinke did not specify for which parks he would suggest boundary changes, but said previously that he would recommend that Bears Ears National Monument, in Southern Utah, be considered for downsizing. Established in 2016 by Pres. Barack Obama, the national monument currently stands at 1.35 million acres.

Also in Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, established in 1996, may be up for size reduction from its current 1.88 million acres.

Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature passed a resolution asking that the president rescind both location’s statuses as monuments.

On Thursday afternoon, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert released the following statement:

I appreciate Secretary Zinke’s thorough review of uses of the Antiquities Act in Utah that I believe exceed the narrow scope of the Act. I am heartened by the secretary’s recognition that Congress, rather than the president, has the authority to enact protections beyond the parameters of the Antiquities Act and that such presidential designations cannot substitute for legislation.

Both the secretary and I have been exceedingly clear that if there is a change to monument boundaries, all affected federal public land will remain an integral part of our national heritage and trust under federal ownership.

It is my hope that the president will carefully study the secretary’s recommendations to narrow the application of the Antiquities Act. If the president decides to modify current monuments, I trust the stakeholders in our public land debates will work with Congress in good faith to pass legislation to clarify controversial public land use regulations.

It is my conviction that working together we can protect Utah’s iconic landscapes for us and future generations, give to Native Americans meaningful co-management that they currently do not have over lands that have been part of their sacred heritage, and provide access to sustainable recreational activities, all while honoring the BLM charter’s important principle of multiple use.

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