Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

US Interior Secretary Urges Size Cuts to More National Monuments

US Interior Secretary Urges Size Cuts to More National Monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will recommend the Badger-Two Medicine be given protection as a National Monument. Gold Butte protects more than 400 square miles (1,040 square kilometers) of desert landscapes featuring rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise and other species.

Trump on Monday acted on Zinke's recommendations to shrink Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments, ordering cuts amounting to millions of acres in a move that triggered legal challenges from tribes and environmental groups. Zinke said, "The argument that somehow President Trump stole land is nefarious, false and a lie".

Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus says Zinke "is in no position to make a sound judgment on Gold Butte".

The Montana Wilderness Association had a mixed reaction to Zinke's latest statements, saying "while we appreciate Secretary Zinke recommending national monument protection for the Badger-Two Medicine, we find it reprehensible that he's doing so at the same time he's stripping protection from a place that is as sacred to five sovereign southwestern nations as the Badger-Two Medicine is to the Blackfeet".

US Interior Secretary Urges Size Cuts to More National Monuments

Zinke on Tuesday blasted critics of the effort, including clothing retailer Patagonia. Trump asked Zinke to review the status of almost 30 national monuments in April. Two lawsuits have been filed to try to block the Grand Staircase decision, the outlet reported.

Trump said he was reversing federal overreach by drastically cutting the sprawling monuments named by Democratic presidents. He said Trump should also consider changing the boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments in the Pacific Ocean.

Republican Rep. John Curtis said at a press conference Tuesday that his measure on Bears Ears National Monument would allow Native Americans and local residents manage the land. "The federal state remains intact", he continued, noting the enormous size of the Utah monument, which has more square acreage than both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks combined.

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