Zinke questions using monument status to save sacred land

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is traveling through Utah this week to see the sites, complete with a hike to Bears Ears' "House on Fire" ruins.

MONTICELLO, Utah (AP) - Fifth-generation Utah rancher Bruce Adams has enjoyed a prime seat next to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week as he reviews a national monument created on lands that Adams' ancestors helped settle in 1879.

"We are concerned and anxious that he's not listening to the tribes", said Cassandra Begay, who serves as the tribal liaison on the board of the Salt Lake City-based Peaceful Advocates for Native Dialogue & Organizing Support.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's visit to the Bears Ears National Monument has sparked new tensions.

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File). Following the official notice in the Federal Registry, people will have 15 days to send comments on Bears Ears national monument and 60 days for all other monuments under review.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visits Bears Ears on May 8, 2017.

"I think, sometimes, the best way to see things is slow and easy with a horse", Zinke said, referring to his commute ride through the streets of Washington, D.C., on his first day as Interior secretary.

Native Americans in San Juan County criticize tribal leaders for receiving large amounts of money to advise the federal government despite being distantly located from the monument.

Trump's order also targets the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, created by Clinton in 1996, and Katahdin Woods and Waters in ME, created past year by Obama.

The rugged terrain south of the Colorado River also has reserves of oil and natural gas that are now off limits to new leasing - restrictions that may end as the Trump administration reviews 27 large-scale monuments his predecessors set aside for protection.

Utah Republican leaders, led by Hatch, campaigned hard to get Trump to take a second look a monument designated by President Barack Obama near the end of his term.

After touring the area, including the two-hour flight in a Black Hawk helicopter, Zinke said that the Bears Ears area is "drop dead gorgeous". Although environmentalists and some indigenous groups backed giving Bears Ears monument status, Bishop said out-of-state support drowned out local voices of opposition. They believe the monument adds vital protections to tribal lands where members perform ceremonies, collect herbs and wood for medicinal and spiritual purposes, and do healing rituals.

He said his upcoming decision is not just about how the local tribes, county officials or the governor feel about the monument, but it's also about how the entire country feels about it because it's America's public land.

"In Blanding, with a population of 3,400 people, two large banners read, "#RescindBearsEars", reflecting the popular sentiment among residents.

The president signed an executive order to review the use of the Antiquities Act, used to create national monuments.

The U.S. Department of the Interior is asking for citizens to send in their comments regarding a review of 27 national monuments created since 1996.

Members of a coalition of five Western tribes that pushed for the Bears Ears designation have said they're outraged the administration will review a decision they say was already scrutinized by the Obama administration, including a multi-day visit a year ago by then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Those tribes all lived in the region long before white settlers, and tribal members say they depend on the Bears Ears for food, shelter, healing, and spiritual sustenance. Some Native Americans and environmental groups anxious that Zinke listened much more to opponents. They wanted even more land to be included in the monument, but the Obama administration chose to stick fairly close to an alternative that was worked out with the Utah delegation. She was following the secretary as he greeted those gathered at Bears Ears, a 1.35 million-acre area in southeastern Utah that is one of 27 monuments threatened by President Donald Trump's recent executive orders. Zinke has been tasked with making a recommendation on the monument by June 10, about 2½ months before a final report about on all the monuments.

If he recommends rescinding Bears Ears, tribal and environmental groups said they will sue. Interior also planned several stops to talk to local press Sunday through Wednesday, but Waggoner said she is not aware of any public meetings at which she could voice her support for the monuments.

"I would rather we not have a monument if you are not going to fund to protect it".

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