On Monday, President Donald Trump announced the rollback of Obama and Clinton-era federal land protections that will reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah by 85% and halve the size of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante.
The reasoning behind the move is to designate as protected "the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects of scientific or historic interest", and the proclamation also opens the newly public lands to "disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and location, entry, and patent under the mining laws". Both monuments are not only home to wildlife like bighorn sheep and elk and breathtaking natural wonders like towering rock formations, but they are also ecologically, historically, and culturally significant as the landscape holds fossils and ancient artifacts that existed long before the United States was ever established as a nation.
The Navajo Nation also issued a statement on Monday that read, "The decision disrespects Native Americans across the country by acting against the Antiquities Act, which has been used countless times since 1906 to protect Native American heritage".
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REI said in a statement Monday the company will "continue to pursue bipartisan support" to protect public lands. PLEASE make your voice heard and sign the petition, asking the President to reconsider this decision and put conservation of wildlife, natural lands, and cultural history ahead of financial interests. Despite a determined pushback by demonstrating climbers, environmental organisations and outdoor industry leaders, Trump's declaration marks the start of uncertain times for U.S. public lands in terms of cultural preservation, commercial land leasing and crag access. Never before has a USA president tried to reduce a national monument to such a degree for so little reason.
"These are tribes that have historical differences that don't typically ally", Branch said. These lands have incredible healing qualities and peace-based qualities.
Elected officials in Utah were against the monument designation for Bears Ears and have said they thought the monument was too big. While the tribes did not get everything they desired, the national monument designation (and protection) was a major and long-awaited victory.
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The tribes point to a federal lands law from the 1970s that says only Congress can actually reduce or nullify a national monument.
Andrew Black, a Presbyterian pastor and director of community relations, education, and veterans outreach for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, organized a trip last month for almost 30 Christian and Jewish clergy members to meet with tribal leaders at Bears Ears. The association represents more than 1,200 businesses in the outdoor industry around the country, and Roberts said Utah has benefited greatly from having national monuments and parks. The clergy prayed together on the land, and Gaffney said she offered her own prayer of gratitude for the diverse group it brought together. "The land is something that can't just be treated carelessly or frivolously. How can that land be a part of life and flourishing?"
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke hit out at Patagonia on Tuesday. Tom Udall, D-N.M., called it "pure politics" during Friday's press call.
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