Interior secretary: Trump should reduce size of Utah national monument

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is asking President Trump to reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument.

The recommendation came in a memo released Monday, an interim report to Trump following his April executive order asking Zinke to review numerous recent national monument designations for potential changes.

Zinke recommends that Trump use his “appropriate authority” under the Antiquities Act to revise the nearly 1.5 million-acre area protected by former President Obama, to remove some land that shouldn’t be in the monument.

Zinke said some areas in the massive monument deserve Antiquities Act protection, while other areas might need other protections.

“There is no doubt that there are historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of interest or scientific interest within Bears Ears,” Zinke told reporters on Monday. “These items and objects can be identified, segregated and reasonably separated.”

But, he added, “if you look at the Bears Ears as a whole, there is a lot more drop-dead gorgeous land than there is historic landmarks, historic structures and other objects.”

Zinke avoided making specific recommendations about how to change the monument, saying that would come at the end of his overall monuments review and after more consultation with Congress and native tribes in the area. The goal, he said, is to protect the “historic and prehistoric” features within Bears Ears that warrant such aid.

While presidents have nearly unchecked power to protect federal land under the Antiquities Act, environmentalists and supporters of Bears Ears say Trump does not have the authority to reduce or rescind any previous national monuments. No president has ever shrunk or rescinded a monument previously established under the 111-year-old law.

But Zinke’s memo appears to presume that Trump has that authority, given that it recommends that the boundary “be revised through the use of appropriate authority, including lawful exercise of the president’s authority granted by the Act.”

The Hill has more on this

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