The Latest: Zinke recommends shrinking Nevada monument

SALT LAKE CITY — The Latest on President Donald Trump's decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah (all times local):

3 p.m.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending scaling back the size of the Gold Butte National Monument in southern Nevada.

Zinke said Tuesday he would focus changes on the site's water districts. Gold Butte protects more than 400 square miles (1,040 square kilometers) of desert landscapes featuring rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise and other species.

Brian Beffort, director of the Sierra Club's Toiyabe Chapter in Nevada, says the recommendation is "a direct attack on decades of work invested by local communities."

President Trump signed a pair of proclamations Monday shrinking the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Zinke declined to specify how much land he wants to remove from monument status in Nevada. He says the administration is working with Nevada's governor and congressional delegation to find a solution.

Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus says Zinke "is in no position to make a sound judgment on Gold Butte."


1:50 p.m.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is strongly disputing a claim by outdoor retailer Patagonia that President Donald Trump "stole" public land by shrinking two national monuments in Utah.

Zinke calls the claim — made in large type on the company's home page — "nefarious, false and a lie."

Zinke says in a conference call Tuesday that "it's shameful and appalling" that Patagonia and other retailers "would blatantly lie in order to get money in their coffers."

Patagonia replaced its usual home page Monday night with a stark message declaring, "The President Stole Your Land." The message called Trump's actions to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments "illegal" and the largest elimination of protected land in American history.

Outdoor retailer REI also criticized Trump but in less harsh language.


11:50 a.m.

A third lawsuit has been filed challenging President Donald Trump's decision to significantly shrink two national monuments in Utah.

The legal challenge is the second aiming to stop Trump from cutting the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half. The lawsuit was filed late Monday in Washington federal court by the Conservation Lands Foundation, Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

They say the reduction jeopardizes lands that include one of the world's hotbeds for dinosaur fossils and contributes to the local economy by bringing visitors from around the world.

An alliance of environmental groups sued earlier Monday to block the action on Grand Staircase.

A coalition of five tribes also sued to protect Bears Ears National Monument, arguing that the law only gives presidents the ability to create a national monument, not the ability to downsize one.


10:50 a.m.

Two Utah congressmen are introducing legislation addressing two national monuments that President Donald Trump is drastically shrinking, turning one into a small national park and allowing Native Americans to help manage the other.

Republican Rep. John Curtis said at a press conference Tuesday that his measure on Bears Ears National Monument would allow Native Americans and local residents manage the land.

Republican Rep. Chris Stewart says his legislation would create a modest national park at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that's about 156 square miles (404 square kilometers).

The monument designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 was nearly 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometers).

In addition to creating Escalante Canyons National Park, Stewart says his measure would allow coal mining and grazing within other areas.


7:48 a.m.

Native American leaders are suing to block President Donald Trump's decision to cut southern Utah's Bears Ears National Monument by about 85 percent.

A coalition of five tribes that pushed for the monument argued in a lawsuit filed in Washington late Monday night that the law only gives presidents the ability to create a national monument, not the ability to downsize one.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch says only Congress has the ability to downsize a monument.

The tribes' legal action is among a number of lawsuits being filed over the president's announcement to shrink Bears Ears and Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments.

An alliance of environmental groups sued Monday to block Trump's order cutting Grand Staircase in half


1:24 a.m.

Native American leaders say President Donald Trump's move to drastically shrink a Utah national monument is the president's second insult to native people in a week and an offense that tribes will unite to fight.

A coalition of five tribes that spent years pushing for the creation of Bears Ears National Monument said Monday it will wage a legal battle over the president's plan to reduce the protected area by 85 percent.

Trump announced in a visit to Salt Lake City that he would also cut protections at Utah's Grand Staircase National Monument roughly in half.

Trump says Utah's lands should not be managed by "distant bureaucrats in Washington" and said he was reversing federal overreach.

Utah's Republican leaders had pushed for Trump's action, saying the monuments closed off the land to energy development and other access.

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