Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendation on Monday to reduce the size of the new 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah could foreshadow a string of battles to shrink parkland in states across the country.

The Trump administration is reviewing 26 other national monuments, and Bears Ears was the first to be flagged by Zinke.

The Interior secretary – who also said Congress should decide how selected areas of the site are categorized – was tasked by President Trump back in April with reviewing western national monuments that were designated since 1996 and total 100,000 acres or more.

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Bears Ears – the first national monument proposed by Native American tribes – has been the most controversial and high profile of the sites under review.

After discussions with Native American groups, then-President Barack Obama used the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate Bears Ears and Nevada’s Gold Butte as monuments in the waning days of his presidency – a move praised by environmentalists and Native Americans, but panned as a “midnight monument” by Republican lawmakers, ranchers and those in the oil and gas industries.

Zinke’s recommendation flipped the tables when it came to responses.

“Secretary Zinke’s exemplary effort to engage with local Utahns is to be commended,” Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, said on Monday. “A locally-driven, legislative approach is the best way to strike a balance among the people who love and use the vast acreage surrounding the Bears Ears.”

Native Americans, environmentalists and executives from numerous outdoor clothing companies slammed Zinke’s recommendation. Industry giants like Patagonia and Arc’teryx have already pulled out of the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in Salt Lake City – the largest outdoor retailer show in the world and a major economic force in the state.

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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/13/trump-s-interior-department-kicks-off-battle-to-shrink-national-monuments.html

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