Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has announced that he would like to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. From CBS News:

In a release following the call, Zinke said, “Designating a monument that – including state land – encompasses almost 1.5 million-acres where multiple-use management is hindered or prohibited is not the best use of the land.”

Shrinking The Monument

He told reporters that “there are some antiquities within the monument that he believes deserves to be respected.” However, he also thinks that “those drawings, archaeological sites, etc. can be ‘reasonably separated’ from the rest of the monument area.”

So Zinke has asked President Donald Trump to “use his ‘appropriate authority’ under the Antiquities Act to revise” the area.

Environmentalists, tribes, and locals praised the move when President Barack Obama decided to protect the 1.5 million acres.

Conservatives and those in the energy fields disagreed.

The Hill continued:

But Zinke’s 45-day review of the monument that Trump requested in April found that some areas in Bears Ears would be better protected by congressional designations for wilderness or recreation areas rather than unilateral protection from the president.

Zinke’s recommendation says Congress should consider applying such designations, and he suggested legislation to give local tribes co-management powers over some of the land.

“Rather than designating an area encompassing almost 1.5 million acres as a national monument, it would have been more appropriate to identify and separate the areas that have significant objects to be protected to meet the purposes of the Act, including that the area reserved be limited to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects,” Zinke wrote.

Zinke supports Native American culture, which is why he hopes Congress will approve tribes to co-manage the lands. CBS News reported:

“I have enormous respect for tribes,” Zinke said, adding that he supports Native American efforts to restore “sovereignty, respect and self-determination.”

Zinke added, “Co-management will be absolutely key going forward and I recommend that the monument, and especially the areas of significant cultural interest, be co-managed by the Tribal nations. I am grateful representatives from the Tribal governments met with me in Utah and am optimistic for our future.”

Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition Responds

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which compromises the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Uti Indian Tribe, immediately responded to Zinke’s decision:

“For us, Bears Ears is a homeland. It always has been and still is. The radical idea of breaking up Bears Ears National Monument is a slap in the face to the members of our Tribes and an affront to Indian people all across the country. Any attempt to eliminate or reduce the boundaries of this Monument would be wrong on every count. Such action would be illegal, beyond the reach of presidential authority.

“The Bears Ears region is not a series of isolated objects, but the object itself, a connected, living landscape, where the place, not a collection of items, must be protected. You cannot reduce the size without harming the whole. Bears Ears is too precious a place, and our cultures and values too dignified and worthy, to backtrack on the promises made in the Presidential Proclamation.

“The Presidential Proclamation of December 28, 2016 reflects the extensive public outreach and coordination that went into the creation of the Bears Ears National Monument. The national monument designation is already 30% smaller than the recommendation from the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Every part of the Monument holds “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic and scientific interest” as called for by the Antiquities Act.

“Leaving the Monument fully intact is also the correct result as a matter of right and wrong. The wonderful Bears Ears National Monument is a gift to the citizens of the United States and the world. Once experienced, the physical beauty of the red-rock terrain and the cultural power of the Old People stay with visitors forever. As for us, we personally have received a great gift also, but most of all we think of our ancestors. They gave us everything we have and this Monument honors them, their wisdom, and their way of life. As President Theodore Roosevelt said in proclaiming the 800,000-acre Grand Canyon National Monument under the Antiquities Act, “Leave it just as it is. You cannot improve upon it.”