Canyons Of The Ancients National Monument Is Not A Review Priority For Now

Photo: Map Showing Canyons Of The Ancients
Canyons of the Ancients is located in Southwest Colorado, west of Cortez.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients is not currently a priority as his agency reviews protections granted to more than two dozen national monuments nationwide.

In April it appeared the national monument would be among those reviewed by Interior, at the direction of President Donald Trump.

The Denver Post reports Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner said he was encouraged by Zinke's comment during a hearing Tuesday. GOP Rep. Scott Tipton said he too was encouraged. Tipton's district includes the monument, which draws more than 30,000 visitors annually. Both had previously stated their support of the monument's current boundaries.

Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift did not elaborate on Zinke's statement.

Canyons of the Ancients was created in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. It covers more than 175,000 acres along the Utah border, west of Cortez. The area is dense with archeological evidence of early Pueblo cliff dwellings, kivas and rock art.

Monument manager Marietta Eaton told CPR in April that the site holds an "incredible array of cultural resources," with about 100 archeological sites per square mile.