Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

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

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

Sunset Arch rises from a sagebrush and slickrock flat in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

President Trump's decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah has already caused an outcry from conservation advocates and Native American tribes.

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.

Trump commented Monday as he left the White House for a trip to Salt Lake City, where he was outlining his intention to shrink the Bears Ears and the Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments.

The reasoning behind the move is to designate as protected "the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects of scientific or historic interest", and the proclamation also opens the newly public lands to "disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and location, entry, and patent under the mining laws". Documents leaked last week indicate that Bears Ears National Monument may be cut by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument may be shrunk by half.

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

"With the action I'm taking today, we will not only give back your voice over the use of this land, we will also restore your access and your enjoyment".

The California-based Patagonia plans to sue the president, according to both its founder, Yvon Chouinard, and the CEO Rose Marcario: "We've fought to protect these places since we were founded and now we'll continue that fight in the courts", Marcario said in a statement Monday.

The laws states that once a president designates a piece of land a national monument, it can not be changed. Much of the additional land is on private property, while some is on land previously designated for timber production, Zinke said. The details of that report will be released Tuesday, he said.

Zinke said his review looked at 150 monuments, with 27 getting the most scrutiny.

"It's an attack on all of our National Monuments, an attack on one in an attack on all, so we want to come out here and stand in solidarity of protection of our national treasures", Gabriel Otoro, organizer of the rally, said. "And the Antiquities Act was never meant to prevent, it was meant to protect". The site in southern Utah contains a series of escalating canyons and gorges, and at 1.7 million acres is the largest land area designated as a national monument. He made the announcement at the Utah State Capital, with a proclamation signing ceremony that included state and federal lawmakers. The President's move was met with protests in Utah and in San Francisco by environmentalists and some Native Americans.

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