Zinke recommends reducing Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has finished his review of 27 national monuments, saying President Donald Trump should alter three of those sites, including Bears Ears.

Trump ordered Zinke to review the national monuments established under the Antiquities Act by presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Zinke delivered the report to President Trump today, but established no timeline for when it would be made public.

Two Utah monuments were under review by Zinke, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Various sources told UtahPolicy.com this week they expected the report to significantly reduce the size of Bears Ears, possibly down to a meager 160,000 acres from the current 1.35 million. Zinke’s report also recommends reducing the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante, established under Bill Clinton.

From the Washington Post:

In a report Zinke submitted to the White House, the secretary recommended reducing the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante, as well as Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, according to multiple individuals briefed on the decision. President Bill Clinton declared the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996, while President Barack Obama designated the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears last year. Cascade-Siskiyou, which now encompasses more than 113,000 acres, was established by Clinton shortly before leaving office and expanded by Obama in January.

If President Trump decides to follow Zinke’s recommendation and reduce both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase, it will touch off numerous legal challenges to the changes.

Gov Gary Herbert said in a statement he hopes Trump gives careful consideration to Zinke’s report:

“It is my hope that the president will carefully study the secretary’s recommendations to narrow the application of the Antiquities Act. If the president decides to modify current monuments, I trust the stakeholders in our public land debates will work with Congress in good faith to pass legislation to clarify controversial public land use regulations,” said Herbert.

In a statement, Sen. Orrin Hatch said Zinke followed the proper process with his review.

“What we have seen throughout the monument review process is a concerted effort to give the people of Utah a voice in the protection of Utah lands. While Utah’s national monuments are a prime example of Antiquities Act Abuse, President Trump and Secretary Zinke are working to correct those past abuses and focus on the original meaning and intent of the law. I appreciate Secretary Zinke’s thorough and thoughtful review, and the efforts he made to ensure relevant stakeholders, particularly those in San Juan, Kane, and Garfield Counties, had an opportunity to be heard. I look forward to assisting in every way possible as additional details about the future of Utah’s monuments are made public.”