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Utah Monument Recommendation Spurs Action

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's recommendation to downsize a vast new national monument in Utah is creating optimism for opponents of 26 other monuments under review.

It's also fueling fear among conservation groups that worry Zinke will propose shrinking or rescinding other sites in his final report due in late August.

Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association Inc., says commercial fishermen are more hopeful now that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument will be reduced or revoked.

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Opponents of other sites are making similar plans after the Bears Ears decision, saying the designations often close areas to oil, gas and mineral development along with other uses.

Conservation groups that were stung by the recommendation are trying to rally public support to fully preserve the monuments but expect they will have to resort to a protracted legal fight if President Donald Trump eventually downsizes or eliminates monument designations.

Kristen Boyles, a staff attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice, said it's obvious the goal is to serve private interests over the public good.