Zinke offers cowardly and misguided recommendation on Bears Ears

Ignores tens of thousands of public comments in support of national monuments

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that he is asking President Trump and Congress to take action to shrink Bears Ears National Monument.

“This recommendation is an affront to Teddy Roosevelt and the legacy of the Antiquities Act. It is an unlawful attempt at a public land grab that would harm local communities, costing them jobs and economic opportunity, and leaving priceless antiquities vulnerable to looting and destruction,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project.

If Trump follows Secretary Zinke’s recommendation, it will be a clear case of executive overreach. Legal scholars have repeatedly said that the president lacks the authority to revoke or alter national monuments.

Secretary Zinke toured Bears Ears National Monument in April without holding a single public meeting. Many pro-monument supporters, including the Bears Ears Tribal Coalition, were frustrated that the visit appeared to be one-sided, meeting with mostly anti-monument advocates.

In addition to asking President Trump to modify the boundaries of Bears Ears, Secretary Zinke’s recommendation passes the buck to Congress, asking them to create national recreation areas or national conservation areas in place of monuments.

“Every acre Secretary Zinke and President Trump pull from this monument is a gift to the special interests that want to profit from Bears Ears,” added Saeger. “This move is as cowardly as it is misguided – neither national recreation nor conservation areas afford the same level of protection as a monument designation, and that’s precisely why Secretary Zinke is asking Congress to make these changes.”

Secretary Zinke’s recommendation ignores the overwhelming public support for Bears Ears, including tens of thousands of pro-Bears Ears public comments, and a recent survey showing that sixty-four percent of Utahans support Bears Ears.

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