National monuments a 'massive federal land grab'

"The Antiquities Act Executive Order directs the Department of the Interior to review prior monument designations and suggest legislative changes or modifications to the monument proclamations", the summary said.

Some Washington insiders say the action is directed at the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, created by Obama in late December on more than 1 million acres that is sacred to Native Americans and contains tens of thousands of archeological sites.

During the 2017 session, Speaker Hughes sponsored H.C.R. 11, Concurrent Resolution Urging the President to Rescind the Bears Ears National Monument Designation.

Zinke, a Republican and former congressional member from Montana whose nomination to the Interior post was opposed by most major environmental groups, said the order requires him to issue recommendations to the president on whether to rescind, reduce or otherwise alter certain monuments.

Utah Representative Rob Bishop, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said he plans to craft legislation to ensure that there is appropriate public input and that it's consistent with the intent of Congress.

"With this review, the Trump administration has launched an attack on Colorado's heritage and the iconic public lands that are critical to our economy and way of life".

Trump's executive order does not strip any monument of a designation.

"The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it's time we ended this abusive practice", Trump said at the signing at the Interior Department.

"There's highly prospective areas for the industry and we've seen considerable development on state and private lands in the vicinity of public lands, which would demonstrate that there could be far greater opportunities if we had a more streamlined process and more opportunities by eliminating these types of obstacles to development". "Bears Ears National Monument is more than just mere federal land to us, as it may be to many other stakeholders - it is a living landscape; it has a pulse".

Designations like the recent Bears Ears often protect large amounts of public land, while grandfathering in certain historical uses like existing cattle grazing leases and mining claims.

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Pearce said he supported Trump's review. In 1996, Clinton designated Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and in 2016, Obama designated the Bears Ears National Monument.

But the impending order also threatens other national monument designations, including the San Juan Island and the Hanford Reach national monuments in Washington state, she said.

"Western communities have been calling on Congress for years to address the continued abuse of the Antiquities Act".

Marina Gorbis of Menlo Park, who recently visited Carrizo Plain National Monument to witness its "superbloom", said she cherished its protected status. A legal analysis commissioned by the National Parks Conservation Association says no, pointing to a 1938 opinion by then-Attorney General Homer Cummings that a monument designation has the force of law and can be reversed only by Congress.

An indian ruin called "Painted Hand", which is dated 1,200 A.D., basks in the sunlight in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in this 2009 file photo.

The president doesn't have the authority to "significantly alter" a national monument, Kelly said in an email.

There was Tri-City-area criticism in 2000, including by the chairman and chairwomen of the Benton, Franklin and Grant county commissions.

The Columbia River remains the biggest draw of the monument, with boats thick on the water from Vernita to the White Bluffs during fishing season.

A substantial portion of the monument, including Rattlesnake Mountain, remains closed to the public.

Associated Press and Staff Writers Paul Rogers and Katy Murphy contributed to this article.

  • Phil Peters