WaPo: Interior Secretary Zinke Calls For Shrinking At Least 4 National Monuments

Aerial view of the Bears Ears National Monument

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended modifying at least 10 national monuments, according to a report he submitted to the president last month.

A spokeswoman for Zinke referred questions to the White House, which said in a statement that it does not comment on leaked documents.

Titus responded Monday to the leak of the memo over the weekend, saying, "Secretary Zinke leaked a memo in the middle of the night because he knows his plan to hack away at monuments like Gold Butte is an overreach opposed by the majority of Americans".

Some national monuments blocks of federal protected land may be shrinking.

Zinke also wrote that former President Obama's proclamation establishing both New Mexico monuments should be amended to "protect objects and prioritize pubic access, infrastructure repairs, fix and maintain traditional uses, tribal and cultural use and hunting and fishing rights".

Most of those that are under review, after Trump complained too much land was locked up in the protected spaces, were created by his Democratic predecessors Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.

Energy, mining, ranching and timber industries have cheered the review, while conservation groups and the outdoor recreation industry threatened lawsuits over what they see as an effort to undo protections of critical natural and cultural resources.




Zinke, in his report to the White House, said past presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, had overstepped their authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act when they drew boundaries for new monuments. None of the sites would revert to new ownership, he said, while public access for uses such as hunting, fishing or grazing would be maintained or restored.

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.

But critics, led by LePage, convinced Trump to include Katahdin Woods and Waters on a list of 27 national monuments that Zinke would review. The land had been donated to the park service for a national monument by Elliotsville Plantation, a nonprofit created by St. Clair's mother, conservationist and entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby. He also said that Bears Ears monument in Utah should be downsized.

In the report, Zinke also recommended changes in uses or management of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in ME; the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, off New England; the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico; and the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument in New Mexico.

The president could also send the recommendations to Congress and request that lawmakers make the adjustments.

"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. "If President Trump acts in support of these recommendations, The Wilderness Society will move swiftly to challenge those actions in court", Williams said.

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