SALT LAKE CITY — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will hold a media briefing Monday afternoon regarding his 45-day review of the controversial Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.
Zinke was directed by President Donald Trump in an executive order to take a look at the considerations that went into the 1.35 million acre designation made late last year by former President Barack Obama.
The White House's Kelly Love, senior assistant press secretary, refuted a CNN story Monday morning that alleged a decision on the monument had been delayed.
Love said there is "no delay," given that the executive order specifically directs ZInke to provide an interim report by the 45-day deadline, which was Saturday.
Dan Merica with CNN reported that Zinke informed the president on Monday that he was delaying a decision until later this year. He referenced a memo that noted there would be a more detailed report to come.
It's unclear how much detail in this interim report will be provided in the briefing and if that report includes a specific recommendation or a list of options for Trump to consider.
The Bears Ears monument designation has been hard-fought by Utah's GOP leaders, who pressed Trump to rescind the monument outright because they assert it falls outside the scope of the Antiquities Act.
That 1906 law gives U.S. presidents the ability to reserve, or set aside land to protect "antiquities" or cultural artifacts at risk for looting or damage.
The law says the land must be the "smallest area compatible with proper care and management" of the objects to be protected.
Members of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition backed by environmental groups have pushed hard for the designation because of the land's historical and sacred ties to Native Americans and because of the vast number of cultural artifacts — estimated to be as high as 100,000.
There's legal debate over whether Trump can rescind the monument, but at least five other times in U.S. history, presidents have reduced boundaries of national monuments for a variety of reasons.
Zinke's report comes after a four-day trip to southeast Utah to look at the Bears Ears region, talk to critics and supporters of the designation as well as meet with local elected leaders, ranchers and conservation organizations.