Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommended that President Donald Trump cut the boundary of the culturally significant Bears Ears National Monument in an interim report he sent to Trump over the weekend.
Udall also said Zinke didn't adequately deal with the five tribes that share in management of the monument, saying the secretary was "disrespectful and insulting" to the tribes and all the work they did to get the land designated a monument.
Zinke's recommendation to President Trump, announced Monday, is preliminary.
"It doesn't explain what the president will do regarding Bears Ears".
The Center for Western Priorities conducted a random sample of hundreds of the comments submitted so far and they found that roughly half of comments generated mentioned Bears Ears specifically and yet just 2.8 percent called for eliminating or reducing monuments, with 96 percent of comments submitted urging Zinke to leave monument boundaries alone!
According to Filfred, if congress attempts to reduce or change the Monument designation, the Navajo, Ute, Zuni and Hopi tribes will bring formal litigation.
"Therefore. the Secretary of the Interior recommends that the existing boundary of the (Bears Ears) be modified to be consistent with the intent of the act".
Tribes, along with other agents of preservation around the state, had pressed the federal government to protect the 1.35 million acre land in the past, which Obama signed into protection under the 1906 Antiquities act in December 2016.
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Protection for the rest of the land, however, is TBD.
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 previous year. Under the original Obama proclamation, tribes only had an advisory role in managing Bears Ears.
But Congress has not proven their ability to pass legislation to protect Bears Ears. He said there have been numerous bills in the past to do that - and there is a new one before Congress now - but they never go anywhere.
That 1906 law gives USA presidents the ability to reserve, or set aside land to protect "antiquities" or cultural artifacts at risk for looting or damage. When asked about the viability of passing such a bill, Zinke said the task would be easier now than it was with Obama in the White House.
"I have enormous respect for tribes", Zinke said, adding that he supports Native American efforts to restore "sovereignty, respect and self-determination".
Native American and environmental groups immediately threatened to sue should Trump follow the recommendation. Zinke toured Utah for four days before making the recommendation. "It's not about the nuances of the Antiquities Act, it's about appeasing political allies and special interests", the tribal group Utah Dine Bikeyah said in a written statement.
The announcement won unanimous praise from Utah's Republican elected leaders, including Sens. Zinke will submit recommendations for the other national monuments in question and a final recommendation for Bears Ears on August 24.
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