Interior has been reviewing national monuments for possible modifications.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has decided to recommend no changes to Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which was one of the many national monuments under modification reviews.
In a press release, Zinke stated:
“When the President and I began the monument review process we absolutely realized that not all monuments are the same and that not all monuments would require modifications. Today I’m announcing that Canyon of the Ancients National Monument review process has concluded and I am recommending no changes be made to the monument,” said Secretary Zinke. “Canyons of the Ancients is gorgeous land, but its monument status as the most high-density Native American archaeological sites in the Nation is clear. The history at this site spans thousands of years, and the federal protection of these objects and history will help us preserve this site for a thousand more years.”
The Canyons of the Ancients covers 178,000 acres and received its national monument status back in 2000. The Denver Business Journal reported that humans “have lived and moved through the area for at least 10,000 years, building cliff drawings and leaving their marks on rocks in the area.”
Zinke made his decision after he reviewed “public comments and conversations with stakeholders.”
Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner hailed the move by Zinke:
“This is great news for Colorado and I’m thrilled the Department of the Interior listened to Coloradans and will make no changes to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument’s designation,” said Sen. Cory Gardner. “I repeatedly raised the issue with Secretary Zinke and highlighted the fact that Coloradans cherish our state’s public lands and any review of Canyons of the Ancients should result in no changes to the monument’s designation. The Secretary has been a great partner throughout his tenure and understands Western issues better than most. I’m proud to have worked with him on this and look forward to continuing to collaborate on issues important to Colorado in the future.”
“I spent a lot of time on the ground in Utah, talking with people and understanding the natural and cultural significance of the area. There is no doubt that it is drop-dead gorgeous country and that it merits some degree of protection, but designating a monument that – including state land- encompasses almost 1.5 million-acres where multiple-use management is hindered or prohibited is not the best use of the land and is not in accordance with the intention of the Antiquities Act.”
But the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition did not approve of Zinke’s decision:
“For us, Bears Ears is a homeland. It always has been and still is. The radical idea of breaking up Bears Ears National Monument is a slap in the face to the members of our Tribes and an affront to Indian people all across the country. Any attempt to eliminate or reduce the boundaries of this Monument would be wrong on every count. Such action would be illegal, beyond the reach of presidential authority.
“The Bears Ears region is not a series of isolated objects, but the object itself, a connected, living landscape, where the place, not a collection of items, must be protected. You cannot reduce the size without harming the whole. Bears Ears is too precious a place, and our cultures and values too dignified and worthy, to backtrack on the promises made in the Presidential Proclamation.
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