US Interior secretary to get aerial tour of Utah monument

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Monday will get a bird’s-eye view of one of America’s newest national monuments as he flies over 1.3 million acres of southern Utah’s red rock plateaus, cliffs and canyons graced with sagebrush, juniper trees and ancient cliff dwellings.

Zinke and Utah’s governor are scheduled to spend the morning touring Bears Ears National Monument by helicopter as the Interior secretary sets out on day two of a four-day Utah visit to re-assess two vast national monuments.

The two Republicans were expected to hold a news conference Monday afternoon before hiking up to the House on Fire, a ruin within the monument.

The re-evaluation of the new Bears Ears National Monument on sacred tribal lands and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, created in 1996, is part of an executive order signed last month by President Donald Trump calling for a review of 27 national monuments established by several former presidents.

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The Bears Ears monument, a source of ire for Utah’s conservative leadership, is a priority in the review.

Zinke has been tasked with making a recommendation on the monument by June 10, about 2½ months before a final report about all the monuments.

“I’m coming in this thing as a Montanan, a former congressman and now the secretary of the Interior without any predispositions of outcome,” Zinke said at a news conference Sunday evening in Salt Lake City. “I want to make sure that the public has a voice, that the elected officials have a voice.”

Utah Republican leaders, led by Hatch, campaigned hard to get Trump to take a second look a monument designated by President Barack Obama near the end of his term.

Hatch and others contend the monument designation is a layer of unnecessary federal control that hurts local economies by closing the area to new energy development.

Hatch, who appeared…

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