Patagonia expected to sue over Trump's monuments order

ENRIQUE LIMÓN

It marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections.

Environmental and tribal groups say the designations are needed to protect important archaeological and cultural resources. Patagonia said the move was "illegal" and constituted the "largest elimination of protected land in American history". He declined to specify how many acres he wants to remove from monument status, stressing that the administration is working with Nevada's governor and congressional delegation to find a solution.

A coalition of five tribes from the area filed a lawsuit Monday to block any changes to the Bears Ears National Monument.

They argue that the areas protected were unnecessarily vast, limiting the potential for economic growth and generally increasing federal control over a state where some two-thirds of the land is already owned by the USA government. "They're trying to take away our history", Trump said at an rally.

In August, Trump said activists are trying to "take away" US history and culture by calling for the removal of Confederate statues.

Trump has said presidents have abused the act by putting unnecessarily big chunks of territory off limits to drilling, mining, grazing, road traffic and other activities.

"This law requires that only the smallest necessary area be set aside for special protection as national monuments", Trump said.

But he did say it would only be a small percentage of the almost 469 square miles (1,215 square kilometers) that protect desert landscapes featuring rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise and other species.

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Bears Ears, which was established a year ago by President Barack Obama, would be slashed by 85 percent, while Grand Staircase-Escalante, established in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, would be cut by almost half. Congress passed legislation modifying the monument's boundaries in 1998 and then approved a land swap in which the state of Utah received 145,000 acres of mineral-rich federal lands and $50 million from the federal treasury. 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.

Under the law, presidents are supposed to reserve "the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected", but critics say some designations flout that small-scale approach.

There have been several innovative proposals for how to give local people greater say in how federal lands are managed.

"Patagonia's business relies directly on public lands, like Indian Creek in Bears Ears, which hosts world-class climbing", Marcario wrote.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke hit out at Patagonia on Tuesday.

"Yesterday, Trump signed an order slashing the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments".

President Trump overrode tribal objections to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines, and he used a recent White House event honoring Navajo Code Talkers to take a political jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, calling her "Pocahontas".

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight organizations on Monday, claiming the President violated the Antiquities Act, signed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to preserve ruins or monuments on federal land. "The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation, but to many tribes in the region", Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement to the press. The former Montana congressman's plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in ME and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

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