Interior head suggests reducing Bears Ears National Monument

FILE - This May 23, 2016, file photo, shows Lockhart Basin, south of the Colorado River, within the boundary of the Bears Ears region in southeastern Utah. President Barack Obama designated two national monuments Wednesday, Dec. 28, at sites in Utah and Nevada that have become key flashpoints over use of public land in the U.S. West. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, File)

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that the new Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be reduced in size and says Congress should step in to designate how selected areas of the 1.3 million-acre site are categorized.

Zinke made the recommendation Monday as part of an interim report to President Donald Trump on the scenic swath of southern Utah with red rock plateaus, cliffs and canyons on land considered sacred to tribes.

Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to review designation of dozens national monuments on federal lands, calling the protection efforts “a massive federal land grab” by previous administrations.

Republicans have singled out former President Barack Obama’s designation of Bears Ears, calling it an unnecessary layer of federal control that will close off new development.

 

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