Congress gave the president authority to designate national monuments on federally owned land under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features.
President Trump is poised to threaten more than 1 billion acres of national monument protection in a devastating and unprecedented attack on America's public lands and oceans. "That's why the president is asking for a review", Zinke said, repeatedly stressing the need for local communities and state officials to have a voice in the process. In the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Congress again affirmed that only it had the power to revoke or modify national monuments, says Mark Squillace, a University of Colorado Law professor and expert on the Antiquities Act.
If you've never heard of Bears Ears, you will; if you don't care, you should.
U.S. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is a Republican from Utah.
However, a question mark will now be put over its status, as President Trump is expected to order a review of all the monuments designated by his predecessor.
At the onset of the Antiquities Act use in the early 1900s, Zinke said new monuments were about 422 acres, while today's monuments often comprise millions of acres.
And there are likely to be legal challenges.
Zinke told the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee this year that he would be open to reviewing recent national monument declarations.
Zinke stressed that the order itself did not strip land marks of their monument designation nor did it loosen environmental laws on development.
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The area lies near where EOG Resources EOG.N - a Texas-based company - had been approved to drill. And activists are anxious that the area, which is rich in natural resources, could be offered up to oil companies if it is de-listed. Conservation groups - and supporters of individual monuments like Bears Ears - have already warned the Trump administration not to go too far in changing any designations or overhauling the Antiquities Act.
Review of presidential declarations of national monuments will look at restricting public land use for agriculture and industry interests.
Bears Ears is not the only site that has experienced a push to give up federal protection.
Eliminating or altering decades worth of national monuments could have a major impact on the mostly-rural communities in their orbit, many of which would like to see the land used for other purposes such as grazing, mining, or logging.
Trump also is taking aim at Obama's action to restrict offshore drilling, notably a December order designating the bulk of US -owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing.
The lands and waters under review total tens of millions of acres, he noted.
Believed to be specifically targeted are the Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears monuments. All but one of the monuments set to be reviewed is west of the Mississippi.
Skeptical reporters pressed Zinke on this promise. But for now, he said, town government is embracing the monument as part of its economic future. Secretary Zinke has said as much.
"To have someone who's never been there say it's a bunch of cut-over scrubland is doing a disservice to the landscape and the people who live there", Lucas St. Clair responded Tuesday. That number includes 32% who say President Trump should "definitely" take action on Bears Ears.
Blaming a "polarized" media for the claim, Zinke stressed "the core of this is to make sure public has a voice". "I think it was a frightful, disgusting decision and it should be reversed if it can".