Ryan Zinke recommends Trump shrink two more US national monuments

Interior secretary wants to reduce Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California and Gold Butte in Nevaa

Interior secretary Ryan Zinke has announced recommendations to shrink two more national monuments in the western US- Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California, and Gold Butte in Nevada.

He also said Donald Trump should consider changing the boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll Marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean.

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, spoke on a call with reporters on Tuesday. He strongly disputed a claim by the outdoor retailer Patagonia that Donald Trump ” stole” public land by announcing the shrinking of two such areas in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

The outdoor retailer’s claim was ” nefarious, false and a lie “, Zinke said.

Unlike national park, which can only be created by an act of Congress, national monuments can be designated unilaterally by presidents under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which is meant to protect sacred sites, artefacts and historic objects.

Trump has said presidents have abused the purposes of the act by putting unnecessarily big chunks of province off limits to drilling, mining, grazing, road traffic and other activities. In April he ordered Zinke to identify which of 27 monuments designated by past chairpeople should be repealed or resized.

Trump announced his decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Salt Lake City on Monday. Conservation groups called it the largest elimination of protected land in American history.

A coalition of the Hopi, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni tribes and Navajo Nation sued late on Monday to challenge the Bears Ears reduction. Two lawsuits have been filed to try to block the Grand Staircase decision.

The court cases are likely to drag out for years, maybe even into a new presidency.

Patagonia has campaigned against Trump on the issue of national monuments. It replaced its usual homepage on Monday night with a stark declaration:” The President Stole Your Land .”

A message called Trump’s actions “illegal” and the largest elimination of protected land in US history. Another outdoor retailer, REI, also criticized Trump but in less harsh language.

Zinke said:” You entail Patagonia induced in China? This is an example of a special interest. I think it is shameful and appalling that they would blatantly lie in order to get money in their coffers .”

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