Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s interim report on the fate of Bears Ears National Monument was released yesterday—and it isn’t good.
As expected, Zinke recommends that President Trump dramatically shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument—though he doesn’t say specifically by how much, or where. Instead, he punted the details of how he’ll recommend Trump chop up the monument to his final report, due in August.
The fact is, the president doesn’t have the authority to reduce the monument. Any attempt by Trump to reduce Bears Ears would immediately wind up in court.
But there’s still time to defend Bears Ears. And now that Zinke has made his intentions clear, your voice is more important than ever.
Despite virtually ignoring previous public comments which favored keeping Bears Ears intact by a 9-1 margin, Secretary Zinke has extended the comment period for Bears Ears. Even if you’ve commented before, now is your chance to tell Zinke what you think of his plan to drastically reduce Bears Ears National Monument.
Remind Secretary Zinke that:
• The President doesn’t have the authority to modify the monument’s boundaries. Only Congress can do that.
• Bears Ears National Monument was a significant achievement for the historic coalition of Tribes that came together to advocate for its protection.
• It is the first national monument to include traditional knowledge as an object worthy of protection in the monument proclamation. And every inch of Bears Ears is necessary to preserve the more than 100,000 archaeological sites therein.
• It is a remarkable wilderness landscape. Beyond the monument’s namesake twin buttes are world-renowned wilderness treasures like White Canyon, Indian Creek, and Comb Ridge. Myriad plant and animal species thrive in its varied habitats. And you’d be hard pressed to find the solitude provided by these areas elsewhere in the lower 48.
Secretary Zinke tried to mask the brutality of his recommendation by calling on Congress to make parts of Bears Ears a National Conservation Area and to give Tribes co-management of whatever crumbs remain of the monument after Trump dices it up. But that’s not just kicking the can down the road—that’s kicking it into the abyss. Congress has had 111 years to protect Bears Ears, and it has completely failed to do so.
Thank you for taking action.