Was It 'Illegal' For Trump To Shrink Utah's Monuments? The Battle Begins

President Trump Sued You Screwed Utah Monument!!! Law Doesn't Allow It, Buddy

President Trump Sued You Screwed Utah Monument!!! Law Doesn't Allow It, Buddy

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, will be reduced from almost 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1,003,863 acres (1,569 square miles).

The monument near the Arizona border contains a rich cache of dinosaur fossils and vast coal reserves. With more monuments potentially on the chopping block, what happens now with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will set the tone for the future of protecting land in the United States, and the power that a president can yield in privatizing them.

Also Monday, another lawsuit filed by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) challenges the proclamation that takes away about 85 percent of the Bears Ears National Monument, also in Utah.

The company previously joined REI and other outdoor recreation companies in a push to move the industry's lucrative trade show from Salt Lake City to Denver in a high-profile protest over Utah leaders' insistence on getting the Bears Ears designation rescinded and trying to take more control of federal lands.

Trump's decision comes after a review of 27 monuments across the United States by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

"There is nothing in the Antiquities Act that authorizes a president to modify a national monument once it's been designated." says Ethel Branch, attorney general for the Navajo Nation, one of the tribes that is suing the administration. Hatch and other Utah Republican leaders pushed President Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land.

Mark Squillace, professor of natural resources law at the University of Colorado-Boulder, said he doubts the federal government would permit mining so quickly after Trump's announcement because it would be bad politics, especially as the legal battle mushrooms.

Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced from almost 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1 million acres (1,569 square miles).

Sen. Orrin Hatch and other Utah officials have praised the president's decision, while Sen.

"The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best, and you know the best how to take care of your land".

"There's enough resources for them now, but you start reducing that by any bit and these species are inevitably going to suffer", says Joshua Lenart, who is the chair of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Utah.

"This is a sad day for indigenous people and for America", Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said in a written response to the decision.

Patagonia vowed to sue the White House and changed its website to address the "illegal move" in a bold declaration that reads, "The President Stole Your Land".

The legality of Trump's decision and of the ensuing lawsuits remains murky, as they center on the rarely used Antiquities Act signed into law by former President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. No president has ever revoked and replaced a national monument before because it is not legal to do so. The most recent instance came in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy slightly downsized Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

The interior secretary's plan would scale back Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou, in addition to the two Utah sites. The Antiquities Act also expressly states that presidents should protect the important sites while using the smallest amount of land possible.

Zinke also has recommended allowing logging at a newly designated monument in ME and urges more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

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