Why Patagonia Will Sue President Trump Over Utah National Monuments

First light over Cedar Mesa in southeast Utah Bears Ears National Monument

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. The court cases are likely to drag on for years, maybe even into a new presidency.

The move comes a week after tribal leaders decried Trump for using the name of a historical Native American figure as a slur.

Three lawsuits already had been filed involving Utah's monuments.

A coalition of the Hopi, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni tribes and Navajo Nation sued late Monday to challenge the Bears Ears reduction, which cuts monument status for the rugged land in southeastern Utah by about 85 per cent. Bears Ears features thousands of Native American artifacts, including ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

As expected, environmental and Native American groups were outraged.

The tribes argue that federal law only gives presidents the ability to create a national monument, not the ability to downsize one. They argue that the areas protected were unnecessarily vast, limiting the potential for economic growth and generally increasing federal control over a state where some two-thirds of the land is already owned by the USA government.

Outside Trump's announcement Monday, roughly 3,000 protesters lined up near the State Capitol.

Opening the land to energy interests may decrease populations of trophy-class animals - such as big horn sheep, deer and elk - which rely on resources located in the land that was Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

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Bears Ears, created almost a year ago, will be reduced to 201,876 acres (315 square miles). Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced from almost 3,000 square miles to 1,569 square miles. In April he ordered Zinke to identify which of 27 monuments designated by past presidents should be rescinded or resized.

Democrats and environmentalists have opposed the changes, accusing President Trump and Zinke of engaging in a secretive process aimed at helping industry groups that have donated to Republican political campaigns.

Follow the Take Action link, and you're led to a form that prompts you to tweet to Donald Trump, Ryan Zinke, and Orrin Hatch about protecting the monuments. "They're wrong. The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best, and you know the best how to take care of your land". Hatch and other Utah Republican leaders pushed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land. He said the decision would "give back your voice".

"No president has ever removed - eliminated - protection from public lands in the way that Trump proposes to do it", says Chairman of the Conservation Lands Foundation Ed Norton.

Hatch, who introduced President Trump, said that when "you talk, this president listens" and that President Trump promised to help him with "federal overreach".

The Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and seven other groups alleged that the president overstepped his authority in scaling back the 1.4-million-acre Bears Ears to about 220,000 acres, and the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument to about 1 million acres.

Patagonia vowed to sue the White House and changed its website to address the "illegal move" in a bold declaration that reads, "The President Stole Your Land".

The two monuments were created by Democrats Barack Obama and Bill Clinton under a century-old law that allows presidents to protect sites considered historically, geographically or culturally important. The former Montana congressman's plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in ME and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

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