Environmentalists say Donald Trump does not have authority to shrink Utah monument

Kids Speak for Parks founder Robbie Bond.- ENRIQUE LIMÓN

Kids Speak for Parks founder Robbie Bond.- ENRIQUE LIMÓN

The Navajo Nation, Native American Rights Fund, which represents the Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the Ute Indian Tribe filed suit Tuesday - a day after President Trump signed proclamations reducing the size of the Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by half.

Audio will be available later today.

President Trump called for two wilderness areas shielded from development in Utah to be reduced by about two million acres, reversing protections introduced by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and teeing up a legal battle. Nearly as soon as the reduction was announced, a deluge of lawsuits were filed on behalf of many involved in that fight - including one by a coalition of 10 conservation groups, and one by a coalition of five Native American Tribes. While past presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect unique lands and cultural sites in America, Trump is instead mangling the law, opening this national monument to coal mining instead of protecting its scientific, historic, and wild heritage. "We've fought to protect these places since we were founded and now we'll continue that fight in the courts". They say it only allows Presidents to CREATE national monuments, but does NOT authorize them to do away with national monuments. Patagonia said the move was "illegal" and constituted the "largest elimination of protected land in American history".

Patagonia's argument for preserving public lands is as much an economic argument as it is an environmental and moral one.

Trump said Monday the "public lands will once again be for public use". "They're not sort of valuable lands, they're among the most valuable lands in the federal system and they belong to all of us".

Other organizations, including the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), have also expressed concern over Trump's national monument agenda.

Outdoor retailer Patagonia is no stranger to throwing its weight behind worthy causes, particularly those aligned with its mission to "use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis". We will not let this stand. "Public lands will once again be for public use because we know that people who are free to use their land and enjoy their land are the people most determined to conserve their land".

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