The Bears Ears Buttes in Utah area framed with summer wild flowers. Photo: Tim Peterson

President Trump plans to shrink boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument

President Donald Trump is once again going against tribal interests with plans to shrink the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

According to news reports, Trump told Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that he is accepting a recommendation from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to downsize the 1.35 million-acre monument. More details will be announced ahead a trip to Utah in December, the White House said on Friday.

“I will not get ahead of the president’s announcement on the specifics of that, but I can tell you he will be going to Utah in the first part of early December and we will be releasing more details at that point,” a White House spokesperson said at a press briefing, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Bears Ears is home to numerous ancestral villages, burial grounds and sacred sites. A diverse coalition of tribes supported its designation in order to protect the lands from looting, development and other threats.

The Navajo Nation, one of the many supporters, has said it is prepared to litigate any changes in the boundaries. Chief Manuelito, one of the tribe's most important leaders, was born in Bears Ears in 1818. He went on to sign the historic 1868 treaty with the United States.

Zinke visited Bears Ears in May but did not tell tribes in advance of his recommendation to revise the boundaries. His preliminary report was released in June, while lower-level Department of the Interior officials were attending a tribal conference, but they found out at the same time as tribes at the National Congress of American Indians mid-year session in Connecticut.

Zinke later sent a more detailed report to Trump in August that contained recommendations about Bears Ears and other monuments supported by tribes. He did not release a copy to tribes either. A version was leaked to the media in September.

Read More on the Story:
Trump headed to Utah in December, tells Sen. Orrin Hatch he’ll shrink Bears Ears National Monument (The Salt Lake Tribune October 27, 2017)
Trump says he will shrink Bears Ears National Monument, a sacred tribal site in Utah (The Washington Post October 27, 2017)
Utah senator: Trump shrinking 2 national monuments in Utah (The Associated Press October 27, 2017)

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