U.S. national monument in Colorado to
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[July 22, 2017]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - U.S. Interior Secretary
Ryan Zinke said on Friday that Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients
archeological site is no longer on a list of more than two dozen
national monuments under review by the Trump administration for possible
reduction or elimination.
Zinke's recommendation to keep the Canyons of the Ancients National
Monument intact, with no modifications, came a week after he announced
that two other sites - Hanford Reach in Washington state and Craters of
the Moon in Idaho - had been removed from the list.
Canyons of the Ancients, occupying 178,000 acres in southwestern
Colorado along the border with Utah, protects a landscape ranking as one
of the highest-density Native American archeological sites in the United
It was designated in 2000 by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.
Colorado's Republican U.S. senator, Cory Gardner, and Republican U.S.
Representative Scott Tipton, whose congressional district includes the
monument, both applauded Zinke's decision.
President Donald Trump ordered the Interior Department in April to
evaluate 27 national monuments created since 1996 with an eye toward
rescinding or shrinking some of them, part of an effort to open more
public lands to mining, oil and gas drilling and other development.
A final report on the national monument review is expected in August.
The review also fits in with a larger Trump initiative to reverse many
of the environmental protections implemented by his Democratic
predecessor, President Barack Obama, that Trump, a Republican, has
criticized as hobbling economic growth.
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All 27 monuments were designated by executive decree under the 1906
Antiquities Act, which gives presidents authority to preserve
federal lands of natural, cultural or scientific significance
without congressional action.
The boundaries of one of the sites on Trump's list, the Grand
Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, was modified by
Congress in 1998, two years after it was created.
Last month, Zinke said he recommended Trump reduce the size of Bears
Ears National Monument in Utah, which Obama designated in the final
days of his administration.
Bears Ears, covering 1.35 million acres, is roughly seven and a half
times the size of Canyons of the Ancients, though both sites are of
strong interest to Native Americans.
Action to scale back or eliminate national monuments is certain to
be challenged in court by environmentalists, who assert Trump lacks
discretion under the Antiquities Act to do so.
No president has ever rescinded the designation of a national
monument, which number 129 across the country.
(Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles;
Editing by Chris Reese)
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