The Latest: Zinke says he wants to preserve Native culture

BLANDING, Utah (AP) — The Latest on U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s visit to Utah to tour two of the 27 national monuments under review (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he wants to make sure Native American culture is preserved in a new national monument in Utah but cautioned that not all tribal members share the same opinion.

Zinke spoke Monday at a trailhead before making a short hike to one of several ancient ruins within Bear Ears National Monument, created by ex-President Barack Obama near the end of his term.

Zinke is in Utah visiting two of the 27 national monuments he’s been tasked to review by President Donald Trump to determine if they were properly established.

Asked if he’ll visit all the sites, Zinke laughed and said not all of the monuments are as controversial as Bears Ears.

A group of Bears Ears supporters greeted Zinke when he arrived to the trailhead. One woman asked why he only met with tribal leaders for an hour.

Zinke, who was shaking another supporter’s hand, said: “Be nice.” The woman responded that she always is.


4:20 p.m.

A member of a tribal coalition that met with U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about his review of the Bears Ears National Monument says the closed-door meeting was intense and left him worried.

Davis Filfred of the Navajo Nation said Monday that the one-hour meeting Sunday in Salt Lake City wasn’t enough time for the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to make their points to Zinke.

Filfred said it seems Zinke is listening more to opponents of the monument than people who want it preserved.

That includes Utah’s all-GOP congressional delegation that planned the trip. They consider the monument an unnecessary layer of federal control that will hurt local economies by closing the area to new energy.

Zinke is in Utah for a four-day trip to see Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante, two of the 27 monuments he’s been ordered to review by President Donald Trump to determine if they were properly established.

Zinke says there is no predetermined outcome of his review.


12:14 p.m.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has landed in a southeastern Utah town where he’s touring one of 27 national monuments he’s been ordered to review by President Donald Trump.

Zinke flew Monday morning from Salt Lake City to Blanding, Utah. After landing, he took a helicopter tour along with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to see the 1.3-million acre Bear Ears National Monument on lands considered sacred to a coalition of five tribes.

Zinke tweeted several pictures after landing in Blanding and wrote, “Touching down. The only way to truly learn about and understand a place is with boots on the ground.”

Several monument supporters from the Navajo Nation came to a spot near the airport to watch Zinke arrive. They wore T-shirts that showed they want the monument preserved.


11:52 p.m.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is getting a bird’s-eye view of one of America’s newest national monuments on Monday as he flies over the 1.3 million-acres Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah.

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 are 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 Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument comes after President Donald Trump’s executive order signed last month called for a review of 27 national monuments established by several former presidents.