According to press reports, Secretary of the Interior Zinke has issued a recommendation to President Trump urging him to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. The recommendation was first reported in the Deseret News.
The following statement is from Heidi McIntosh, Earthjustice’s managing attorney in the Rocky Mountains and a public lands expert:
“Make no mistake: unilaterally shrinking the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument would not only be a slap in the face to the five sovereign tribes who share sacred ties to this land, it would violate both the Antiquities Act and the separation of powers doctrine. The President simply lacks the authority to change a national monument designation under the Antiquities Act, our country’s century-old law that protects some of our most scenic and historic landscapes.
“Bears Ears is a national treasure home to archeological wonders, ancient cliff dwellings, and special wild spaces, and the American people have said loud and clear that any effort to dismantle its protections as a political favor to a few disgruntled Utah politicians is unacceptable. If President Trump follows Secretary Zinke’s recommendation to shrink the boundaries of these cherished lands, we will see him in court.”
Resources for reporters:
- Text of the Antiquities Act
- Congressional Research Service reports: “Antiquities Act: Scope of Authority for Modification of National Monuments” and “National Monuments and the Antiquities Act”
- Outdoor Industry Association report on economic activity based on public lands: “The Outdoor Recreation Economy”
- Earthjustice resources on Bears Ears: “Defending Bears Ears National Monument” and “Gutting America’s National Treasures is Unlawful and Unwise”