Thu, 15 Nov 2018

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday recommended President Donald Trump reduce the size of more national monuments in the western United States, and he lashed out at critics of cuts already announced to protected areas in Utah.

Zinke said the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument straddling the border of Oregon and California and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada were both too big and should be reduced in size. He said Trump should also consider changing the boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll Marine National Monuments in the Pacific Ocean.

Trump on Monday acted on Zinke's recommendations to shrink Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments, ordering cuts amounting to millions of acres in a move that triggered legal challenges from tribes and environmental groups.

FILE - A supporter of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments dances with a headdress during a rally in Salt Lake City, Dec. 2, 2017.

Unlike national parks that can only be created by an act of Congress, national monuments can be designated unilaterally by presidents under the century-old Antiquities Act, a law meant to protect sacred sites, artifacts and historical objects.

Trump has said former presidents abused the act by putting unnecessarily big chunks of territory off limits to drilling, mining, grazing, road traffic and other activities. He ordered the Interior Department in April to identify which of 27 monuments designated by past presidents should be rescinded or resized to make way for development.

Zinke on Tuesday blasted critics of the effort, including clothing retailer Patagonia.

'You mean Patagonia made in China? This is an example of a special interest,' he told reporters. 'I think it is shameful and appalling that they would blatantly lie in order to get money in their coffers.'

The company's website home page read on Tuesday: 'The president stole your land' in large letters, calling his moves to cut the Utah monuments 'illegal.'

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