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U.S. interior secretary looks to restore Utah monuments slashed by Trump

PoliticsApr 08, 2021 05:41PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The entrance to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is seen outside of Escalante, Utah 2/2

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The president of the Navajo Nation on Thursday urged U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to protect 1.9 million acres of land as the Bears Ears National Monument during her visit to Utah, expanding the site that was slashed in size by former President Donald Trump to open it to mining, grazing and drilling.

Jonathan Nez, president of the largest Native American tribe, met with Haaland in Bluff, the gateway to the Utah monument, during her two-day visit to the southwestern state, where she is meeting with tribes and political officials to discuss the potential restoration - or expansion - of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, two national monuments that were drastically downsized by Trump.

The visit is the centerpiece of Haaland's first multi-state tour since being confirmed last month as the first Native American cabinet member, holding symbolic power given the importance of the monuments to Southwestern tribes.

"Bears Ears is sacred and deserves to be protected," Nez said in a statement.

Nez said having Haaland sit at the head of the table during the consultation is a "historic moment" for Indian Country and made the case that the site is sacred for the Navajo and four other tribes who joined together in 2015 to propose the creation of the monument to protect cultural sites from vandalism, looting and energy development.

Haaland, whose job gives her oversight of America's vast public and tribal lands, visited Utah's San Juan county on Thursday and will visit Kane county on Friday as part of a review of their boundaries launched by Joe Biden on the Democrat president's first day in office.

Trump, a Republican, had cut the size of the two formerly massive monuments by 2 million acres (8,000 square kilometers) combined at the request of Utah's Republican lawmakers, removing protections that had hindered ranching, drilling, mining, and other development in an area twice the size of the state of Rhode Island.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, had created the 1.3 million acre Bears Ears National Monument in 2016 under the U.S. Antiquities Act after tribes originally proposed the site to cover 1.9 million acres. Trump cut it to around 200,000 acres.

Tribes in the region consider the areas sacred and home to thousands of important cultural and archeological sites and want Haaland to recommend to Biden to go further than restoring Bears Ears to Obama's boundaries, according to Pat Gonzales-Rogers, director of the Inter-Tribal Coalition.

"We are consistent in what we are asking for. The original tribal proposal and a path to making that permanent," he said.

Grand Staircase-Escalante, meanwhile, was created by former President Bill Clinton, also a Democrat, in 1996 at 1.9 million acres and was cut roughly in half by Trump.

Under the Antiquities Act, presidents have the authority to create or alter national monuments unilaterally, which makes their protections uncertain over time.

Utah's Republican Governor Spencer Cox, Senator Mitt Romney and Congressman John Curtis - who have advocated for a smaller protected area for both monuments - also met Haaland on Thursday.

"I'm hopeful this visit will ... highlight to the Secretary the importance of working with Congress toward a permanent legislative solution for the monuments' boundaries and management that reflects the input of Utah's state, local, and tribal leaders, rather than unilateral action," Romney spokesperson Arielle Mueller said.

Earlier this month, the Utah delegation met tribal leaders from the Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian ahead of Haaland's visit to try to reach a compromise on legislation to protect a smaller area of Bears Ears.

U.S. interior secretary looks to restore Utah monuments slashed by Trump
 

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Comments (4)
Laura Noland
Laura Noland 1 hour ago
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𝚛𝗲𝗰𝗲𝗶𝘃𝗲 $ 10,000. 𝚑𝗲𝗿𝗲'𝘀 𝗵𝗼𝘄: 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗳𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝘁𝗼 $ 10,000 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗳𝗶𝘁. 𝚐𝘂𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗲𝗱. 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗳𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗼 𝗮 𝗴𝘂𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗲𝗱 $ 10,000 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗳𝗶𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻'𝘁 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗶𝘁. 𝚑𝗲𝗿𝗲'𝘀 𝗵𝗼𝘄: 𝚑𝗶 𝗹𝗲𝘁 𝗺𝗲 𝗮𝘀𝗸 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗮 𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗱𝗼 𝗶𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗸𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗲? 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 "𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗸𝘆" 𝗼𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗸𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗳𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲? 𝚌𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘃𝘂𝗿𝗾𝗼𝗽𝗹.𝗴𝗾
Vlad Lozovskiy
Vlad Lozovskiy Apr 08, 2021 7:45PM ET
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Fake article.  Trump did not slash any monuments.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Apr 08, 2021 1:25PM ET
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Mining and Drilling= Dissapation of what WAS Earth.
David Lockshin
David Lockshin Apr 08, 2021 7:30AM ET
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400+ years later and our government is still screwing w native Americans land rights.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Apr 08, 2021 7:30AM ET
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Several tribes in the region consider the areas sacred and home to thousands of important cultural and archeological sites. They will ask Haaland to restore the protections cut by Trump  --- some administrations *******with native american rights a little more than others
 
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