Native American leaders: Trump's monument order disrespects native people

WATCH LIVE: Trump expected to scale back Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments

WATCH LIVE: Trump expected to scale back Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments

"Trump.pdf" target="_blank">a lawsuit in a Washington, D.C. court on behalf of eight different organizations, alleging that in signing the proclamation, Trump "violated the 1906 Antiquities Act by stripping monument protections from this national treasure". The court cases are likely to drag on for years.

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

Trump chose to reduce Bears Ears National Monument by about 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half.

Additional legal challenges were expected from environmental groups and outdoor clothing company Patagonia. "There is nothing in the Antiquities Act that authorizes the president to modify a national monument once its designated", explained Ethel Branch, attorney general for the Navajo Nation.

"Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington", Trump said in his speech.

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Roughly 3,000 demonstrators lined up near the State Capitol to protest President Trump's announcement.

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.

Trump traveled to Salt Lake City for the announcement, and also met with leaders of the Mormon Church.

Bears Ears, created almost a year ago, will be reduced to 315 square miles.

Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced from almost 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1 million acres (1,569 square miles).

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According to Earthjustice, the Antiquities Act grants presidents the authority to designate public land as federally protected areas under national monuments to safeguard significant features of natural, cultural, historic or scientific interest. "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".

Zinke accompanied President Trump aboard Air Force One, as did Utah's Republican U.S. senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. The administration and Republican leaders in Utah say taking the land out of the hands of the federal government will allow the state to decide what to do with it, including protecting some areas and possibly allowing development in others. He said the decision would "give back your voice". The two national monuments in the territory that was Bears Ears will be Shash Jáa and Indian Creek, with a combined land mass of 201,876 acres. The company said it has "always viewed public lands as our special interest", company spokeswoman Corley Kenna said.

Hatch, who introduced Trump, said that when "you talk, this president listens" and that Trump promised to help him with "federal overreach". "And the Antiquities Act was never meant to prevent, it was meant to protect". The most recent instance came in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy slightly downsized Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

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. The law also states, however, that presidents should only choose the smallest amount of land possible, NPR reported.

Zinke declined to specify how many acres he wants to remove from monument status, stressing that the administration is working with Nevada's governor and congressional delegation to find a solution.

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Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, spoke on a call with reporters on Tuesday.

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