Trump shrinks national monuments in Utah

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Native American leaders are suing to block President Donald Trump's decision to cut southern Utah's Bears Ears National Monument by about 85 percent.

Trump said Monday that former Presidents Obama and Clinton had "severely abused the objective, spirit and intent" of the 1906 Antiquities Act in creating the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments, respectively.

The monument near the Arizona border contains a rich cache of dinosaur fossils and vast coal reserves.

The California-based company, which is known for its activism, joins a growing number of organizations questioning the Trump administration's authority to slash the areas covered by Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument. The sites were among 27 that Trump ordered U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review this year.

"Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington", Trump said.

"Americans have overwhelmingly spoken out against the Trump Administration's unprecedented attempt to shut down our national monuments", Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said in a statement, according to AdAge.

Two lawsuits also have been filed to try to block the Grand Staircase decision, which cuts the monument almost in half. If it presses forward, more legal challenges are sure to follow.

Trump said Monday the "public lands will once again be for public use".

The monument designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 was almost 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometers). We've written about this for years, so forgive me if I'm overly brief, but Patagonia hits on the overwhelming public support for the monuments, the billions in consumer spending that makes outdoor rec a larger industry than oil and gas, and the states selling off their land to oil and gas drillers.

"Hopefully, we can have some closure on what the president can and cannot do", said Mike Noel, a Republican state representative in Utah who was on stage with the president during his proclamation signing in Salt Lake City. Orrin G. Hatch and Gov. Gary R. Herbert.

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Hatch, who introduced President Trump, said that when "you talk, this president listens" and that President Trump promised to help him with "federal overreach".

Trump framed the decision as returning power to the state, saying, "You know and love this land the best and you know the best how to take care of your land".

Zinke said: "You mean Patagonia made in China?"

Among the clergy was Lorrie Gaffney, a United Church of Christ pastor from Salt Lake City who said the group spotted antlered deer, turkeys, even a mountain lion with its cubs just as they drove through the national monument.

"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.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch says only Congress has the ability to downsize a monument. The law gives presidents broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use.

The monuments were established under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to set aside land to protect historic landmarks, structures or other objects of historic or scientific interest.

Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced in size, though details remain unclear.

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, spoke on a call with reporters on Tuesday.