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Sunset Arch rises from a sagebrush and slickrock flat in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

While Secretary Zinke has assured me that he doesn't plan major changes, the question of New Mexico's monuments is now in President Trump's hands.

Environmentalists and tribes have already sued over that decision, arguing the federal Antiquities Act does not give the president the power to reduce previously declared monuments. But Native American and environmental protection groups fear removing federal protections paves the way for environmentally destructive corporate activities on land of archaeological significance.

"This is a shameful and illegal attack on our nation's protected lands".

"The president doesn't have the legal authority to unilaterally revoke or shrink the boundaries".

U.S. President Donald Trump autographs the hat of Bruce Adams, chairman of the San Juan County Commission, after Trump signed an executive order at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., December 4, 2017.

At the center of this sage brush battle is a relatively obscure federal law called the Antiquities Act. Teddy Roosevelt is rolling in his grave.

Patagonia has campaigned against Trump on the issue of national monuments. It earned him cheers from Republican leaders in Utah who lobbied him to undo protections by Democratic presidents that they considered overly broad.

Trump is traveling to Salt Lake City on Monday to announce his intention to shrink the Bears Ears and the Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments spanning millions of acres in Utah. One would reduce the 1.3 million acre Bears Ears National Monument, created in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama, to 228,784 acres split into two separate areas. "And the Antiquities Act was never meant to prevent, it was meant to protect".

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In addition to Trump, the lawsuit also names Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and acting director of the Bureau of Land Management Brian Steed as defendants.

Tribes and conservationists have been preparing lawsuits for months.

During Saturday's protest, people carried signs comparing the land to a temple and telling the president he was making "a monumental mistake".

Both parks, or monuments as they are called, are in the dramatic Southern Utah red rock country.

But there's another tricky issue here.

But the wilderness groups say Trump needs to bone up on the Antiquities Act.

These five tribes were part of the coalition that for years pushed for the Bears Ears region to become federally protected, as these tribes consider the land sacred ground. He says these designations take everything off the table, like expanding cattle grazing or mining.

LePage said he didn't want to expend resources on promoting the monument until Trump made a final decision on the future of the property. "He understands what rural communities are about".

Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced, though details are unclear. If they press forward, more legal challenges are sure to follow.


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