In the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, early morning light begins to illuminate Cave Canyon where there are ruins thought to be 700 years old. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended President Trump “revise the existing boundaries” of the Bears Ears National Historic Monument and call on Congress to dictate the terms of how parts of the area should be managed.
Native American and environmental groups immediately threatened to sue should Trump follow the recommendation.
In an interim report Zinke gave to the White House on Saturday, he proposed Trump ask Congress to give tribal officials authority to co-manage “designated cultural resources” in the area and “make more appropriate conservation designations” within an area that President Barack Obama formally protected in southeastern Utah late last year.
But Zinke suggested holding off on any final decision until a full review of 27 national monuments designated by Trump’s predecessors is completed. Trump signed an executive order in April ordering Zinke to conduct the 120-day review, and he instructed the secretary to first report back on Bears Ears, a 1.35-million-acre site Obama designated in December under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
A coalition of tribes, environmentalists, outdoor recreation businesses and academics had pressed for the designation because some of the area’s more than 100,000 archaeological sites have been damaged in recent years by vandalism, off-road vehicle use and looting. Gov. Gary R. Herbert and Utah’s congressional delegation, all Republicans, argued that lawmakers should determine the boundaries of any monument rather than the White House.