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Donald Trump to order review of national monument designations

26 April 2017

The New York Times reports Trump will sign an executive order this week authorizing a review of national monument designations under presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

The order also will re-examine former President Obama's highly controversial action to create the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears national monument in Utah.

While the president has the ability to designate public lands as national monuments, it's unclear whether the Antiquities Act allows for the White House to rescind or diminish the size of previously designated monuments. He did so citing his prerogative under the Antiquities Act - a century-old law meant to give presidents only limited authority to designate special landmarks.

"I'm here today to support the monument and my 3-year-old son", Waggoner said on a conference call with reporters organized by a pro-Obama group. "It starts with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase and only gets worse from there".

Still, Zinke said the Interior Department has drifted away from multiple use in favor of single use of the land and needs to restore trust between the federal agency and the states, particularly those in the West.

The details of the order were not immediately known Monday, but during a speech on the Senate floor Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah described it as "reining in the abuse of authority under the Antiquities Act".

Zinke said the public review of monuments is appropriate given the feedback from governors, members of Congress, local officials and other stakeholders.

"When you designate a monument, the local community affected should have a voice", Zinke said.

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Believed to be specifically targeted are the Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears monuments.

The senators' statement urged the president "to live up to his repeated promises on the campaign trail to protect public lands for all Americans and uphold the existing protections for the 157 national monuments, which have been designated throughout the decades by almost every USA president of the last century".

National monument designations have protected some of the most iconic places in the country.

Environmental and Native American advocates argue that the monuments are deserving of protective status and reflect, at least to some degree, community support for them. EOG Resources, a Texas-based company, was recently approved to drill near Bears Ears.

Trump's executive order isn't breaking any laws yet-but as he continues down the path to reverse public lands decisions from the Obama and Clinton administrations, environmentalists are already counting on challenging him in court, says the Wilderness Society's Hartinger. "It's extremely disturbing to see the Trump administration apparently laying the groundwork to remove protections on our public lands". And he's the anti-federal government rancher who led an armed standoff over cattle grazing. Secretary Zinke has said as much. The Budget reduces land acquisition funding by more than $120 million from the 2017 annualized CR level and would instead focus available discretionary funds on investing in, and maintaining, existing national parks, refuges, and public lands.

The Bears Ears was created by President Obama after several years of discussions that included proposed legislation, the Public Lands Initiative (PLI).

While the move was praised by conservationists and the tribal nations with ties to the area, it was opposed by many officials who said the designation was too broad.

Donald Trump to order review of national monument designations