Trump's interior secretary wants to shrink national monuments

Interior Secretary Endorses Shrinking 6 National Monuments

Since April, when President Trump ordered a review of national monuments created since 1996 to end "egregious use of government power", observers have been waiting for news on how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would approach these federal lands. It also calls for a new assessment of border-safety risks at a monument in southern New Mexico. A spokeswoman for the fisheries council says it is working on rules that would freeze the footprint where commercial fishing is now allowed in Atlantic slopes and canyons, including in some parts of the monument, but would not bar it altogether. Several are about the size of the state of DE, including Mojave Trails in California, Grand-Staircase Escalante in Utah and Bears Ears, which is on sacred tribal land. Commercial fishing also would be allowed at two Pacific sites, west of Hawaii and near American Samoa.

"It's gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we're going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place".

The interior secretary said he had received 2.6 million comments about the monument review but added environmental campaigners had been overrepresented at the expense of residents. The restrictions aren't as stringent as for national parks, but include limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles.

No other president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have trimmed and redrawn boundaries 18 times, according to the National Park Service.

"This callous proposal will needlessly punish local, predominantly rural communities that depend on parks and public lands for outdoor recreation, sustainable jobs and economic growth", the Wilderness Society said late Sunday.

In June, Zinke told reporters he had recommended shrinking the Bears Ears monument, the country's newest monument, and last month he sent his recommendations to the Republican president after reviewing more than two dozen national monuments.

Zinke's recommendations represent the largest attack on "protected public lands" in US history and "would open up huge swaths of protected lands to drilling and mining speculators and other special interests", League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski said Monday in a statement.

Utah's congressional delegation strongly supports either rescinding or modifying the Bears Ears National monument designation.

None of these recommendations have been finalized, and the leaked memorandum written by Zinke said at several points, "Draft Deliberative - Not for Distribution".

If the president adopts the recommendations, it would ease some of the worst fears of his opponents, who warned that vast public lands and marine areas could be lost to states or private interests.

While the antiquities law enables a president to permanently declare certain places of historic or scientific interest a national monument, a few US presidents have reduced the size of some such areas.

Among the most controversial proposed changes are to two massive monuments in Utah that together total more than 3.2 million acres.

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