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Bennet Blasts Trump Administration Over Monuments Review

By Stan Bush

DENVER (CBS4) - Senate Democrats are blasting the Trump Administration over a review threatening the future of 27 national monuments.

"I guarantee you Teddy Roosevelt is turning over in his grave," said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

CBS4 has covered the review -- signed by a President Trump in an executive order in May -- that target monuments from 1996 to the present that exceed 100,000 acres in size or that did not receive sufficient public input in the eyes of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Colorado's Sen. Michael Bennet says changes to any of the monuments would be devastating.

"The people in Colorado are tired of an administration that can't govern between the commercial breaks," said Bennet.

Bears Ears National Monument under review
Bears Ears National Monument (credit: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Critics believe the review focuses on Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, both in Utah. In January the Utah Legislature symbolically voted to rescind and reduce those monuments. Bennet says that vote caused the Outdoor Retailer show, the largest trade show for outdoor gear in the world, to move from Salt Lake City to Denver, citing the vote as the state's denunciation of public lands.

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Sen. Michael Bennet (credit: CBS)

"The reason they wanted to plant their flag in Colorado is because they've seen our policies are consistent with their policies," said Bennet.

There has now been an avalanche of public comment on Bears Ears; 2.7 million people have supported the protection of the monument.

RELATED: History, Tourist Economy Hang In Balance Of National Monument Review

"Obviously the Trump administration is trying to destroy the work we've done to protect public lands," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.

Overwhelming support still seems unlikely to sway the Administration's decision to alter Bears Ears. Zinke visited the monument in June and recommended shrinking the federal conservation area as well as passing off some authority to the state of Utah and local tribes.

Bennet says Trump is handing the judgement of public lands to over special interest groups instead of the public.

"It's disturbing that they would be taking the judgement of a right wing think tank instead of the people of Colorado," said Bennet.

Stan Bush is a general assignment reporter at CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 10. Read his bio and follow him on Twitter @StanBushTV.

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