Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Was It 'Illegal' For Trump To Shrink Utah's Monuments? The Battle Begins

Was It 'Illegal' For Trump To Shrink Utah's Monuments? The Battle Begins

"I've become an expert in monuments", President Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said at the Utah capitol Monday.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce in Utah on Monday plans to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, according to a source familiar with the issue told NBC News.

Utah's mostly Republican officials have lobbied Trump for months, saying the monuments closed off the areas to energy development and other access.

"The Antiquities Act was created to protect rather than prevent, and no president, under the authority of the Antiquities Act, has the authority to arbitrarily remove the public from their lands, reduce public access, reduce hunting and fishing and reduce traditional uses, unless those uses threaten the object", Zinke said.

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

"It's just another slap in the face for a lot of us, a lot of our Native American brothers and sisters", Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said.

Before President Trump even finished his triumphal visit to Utah yesterday, the first lawsuits were being filed.

A Zinke-led study into national monument declarations says that Trump should shrink OR and California's Cascade-Siskiyou and Nevada's Gold Butte national monuments by small amounts.

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Here in Utah, where about 2/3 of the entire state is federally owned and there are seven large monuments, this Act is a household name, and in some rural areas, a dirty word.

Zinke is also recommending Trump change management plans for six other monuments, allowing for additional grazing, ranching, fishing, hunting, and other activities in those locations. A coalition of Native American tribes also said it would sue the Trump Administration over the reduction of the Bears Ears Monument.

A message called Trump's actions "illegal" and the largest elimination of protected land in USA history.

"Through the Antiquities Act, Congress delegated to the president the limited authority to designate national monuments and retained to itself the power to revoke or modify national monuments".

Trump said his decision was made to "reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens". And when it comes to decisions about the future of public lands, Americans deserve an open and above-board approach - not the sham process the Trump administration has used to try to justify loosening protections. President Trump says there's been "a massive federal land grab" which has taken away state's rights.

According to The New York Times, one was filed on Monday in Washington the Wilderness Society, Great Old Broads for Wilderness and eight other groups in defense of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Patagonia has campaigned against Trump on the issue of national monuments. "On Wednesday, we will be filing a lawsuit challenging the president's revocation of Bears Ears National Monument".

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