Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke quietly submitted his recommendations to President Donald Trump today on whether to alter, reduce or rescind several national monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Monuments in Utah. Trump ordered the review of all monuments designated since 1996–starting with Bears Ears–on April 26. The 120-day deadline was today. Bears Ears is an area that is culturally significant for at least five Native American tribes. It also contains world-class climbing areas such as Indian Creek.
Zinke issued an interim report in June in which he recommended that Bears Ears should be reduced, but he wouldn’t say by how much. He emphasized that it was only an interim report that may be subject to change in his final report. No details on his final recommendations have been released so far, however.
The Washington Post reported that “according to multiple individuals briefed on the decision,” Zinke’s report to the president calls for reducing the size of Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
Utah Congressman and Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources Rob Bishop held a conference call with reporters this morning but he was also silent on the details, though he did not deny that he had been briefed about the contents of the final report. He insisted that the White House must be given time to consider Zinke’s recommendations before the details are made public.
“The White House and Secretary will announce the details on their own time,” he said.
The Interior’s press release can be found here.
Alpinist will update this story with more details to come.–Ed.