Despite tribal opposition, Trump’s Interior Secretary wants to shrink Bears Ears National Monument

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommended that President Donald Trump cut the boundary of the culturally significant Bears Ears National Monument in an interim report he sent to Trump.

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.

“The review shows that rather than designating an area encompassing almost 1.5 million acres as a national monument, it would have been more appropriate to identify and separate the areas that have significant objects to be protected” the secretary’s report reads.

Though Zinke did not say how many acres would be cut from the monument, he did suggest that there are “a lot more” landscapes that do not need to be protected as a national monument than there are historical artifacts and sacred sites that are warranted protection under the Antiquities Act.

The report and review of Bears Ears National Monument are the result of an Executive Order signed by Trump in April aimed at revoking or shrinking 27 national monuments. Bears Ears is a 1.35 million-acre monument that was designated late last year by President Obama at the behest of a coalition of five tribal nations with the intention to protect sacred Native American sites and ecologically significant landscapes.

According to an analysis of the recent public comment period, Utah residents support the monument by a 9 to 1 margin.

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