Zinke’s recommendation comes in sharp contrast to public opinion. Referring to the area’s key historic sites and structures, he said, “these items and objects can be identified, segregated and reasonably separated”.
The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to protect and care for lands with natural, scenic and cultural value within the Mojave Desert.
But Zinke’s memo appears to presume that Trump has that authority, since 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“.
Certain areas with historic and prehistoric landmarks and archaeological sites will continue to be part of Bears Ears, Zinke said.
Zinke toured Bears Ears last month on foot, horseback and helicopter and met with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders. Hatch was “grateful for the inclusive process” Zinke went through to hear voice of Utahans from all perspectives, Hatch said in a video press release. Since late April, Zinke has received over 150,000 comments from the public, the vast majority of which demonstrate overwhelming support for National Monuments. Additionally, none of these changes have taken place since the passing of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, which affirmed that only Congress has the authority to modify federal lands.
Bears Ears National Monument is a 1.3-million-acre conservation area that was designated by President Barack Obama in the final days of his presidency.
The group called Zinke’s recommendation “illegal” and meant “to turn back the clock one hundred years on tribal relations and Utah’s economy”.
The decision delays any certainty for Bears Ears, a 1.3-million-acre parcel of lands that includes world-class rock climbing, age-old cliff dwellings and land sacred to Pueblo Indians that Obama designated a monument in 2016.
Trump had argued that previous administrations “abused” their right to designate monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and put millions of acres of land, mainly in western states, off limits to drilling, mining, logging and ranching without adequate input from locals.
If there was ever any ambiguity about how the general public felt about National Monuments before, this comment period has clarified the strong support Americans have for the Antiquities Act and the monuments it has created. As the original comment deadline approached, supporters urged the public to tell Zinke that they stood with Bears Ears, including Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “These lands are powerful economic drivers for our city, with thousands of visitors launching their adventures to these iconic landscapes from Salt Lake City”. 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.
“If the Administration proceeds in attempting to shrink the monument, we could lose funding potential, proactive management, and law enforcement resources for the land that would no longer be included in the monument”, the statement read.
“The Secretary’s recommendation isn’t about doing what’s best for Utah. Our people and our leaders have spent endless hours working to protect these lands through monument designation”.