Interior chief: Shrink 4 national monuments

21 September, 2017, 00:13 | Author: Andrea Terry
  • Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune The two buttes that make up the namesake for the Bears Ears National Monument reveal the vast landscape surrounding them as part of the 1.35 million acres in southeastern Utah protected by President Barack Obama

But the head of the nonprofit Friends of Gold Butte vowed a legal challenge of any boundary change by presidential edict.

In July, O&C County Commissioners met with the Interior Secretary, along with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden.

Mr Zinke also suggests exploring the possibility of recognising three new national monuments: Kentucky's Camp Nelson, an 1863 Union Army outpost where African American regiments trained; the MS home of murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers; and the Badger-Two Medicine area in Montana, which is sacred ground for the Blackfeet Nation.

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

In his report, Zinke recommends reducing the size or changing the allowable uses of seven land monuments, including Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada, and allowing commercial fishing in three marine monuments, including Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll in the Pacific, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts in the Atlantic.

"What is the objective of a marine monument if it is open to industrial fishing, drilling, and mining?" asks PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that the memo was submitted a month ago but the White House refuses to comment because it is both "leaked" and still "under review".

"Our recommendation (to Zinke) was to just make the northern boundary of the monument match the water district's southern boundary", Brown, in Mesquite, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's recommendation to President Donald Trump recommending downsizing the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument has several errors, one of the people who was behind the creation of the monument said Monday.

The recommendations add a surprising uncertainty to two vast areas set aside past year by the Obama administration, which established the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, about 130 miles off Cape Cod, and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, some 87,000 acres in Maine's North Woods.

Zinke's plan also would allow logging at a newly designated monument in ME and urges more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico. Both the White House and Zinke had declined to make the memorandum public.


"The fate of this OR treasure should not be another state secret on top of everything else this administration has tried to keep in the dark". Now, that 19-page document lives on the Internet thanks to The Washington Post and the details show Zinke recommends shrinking, changing management or modifying 10 national monuments.

A White House spokeswoman declined comment. And opponents worry Trump may go even further and completely remove some designations.

President Obama made the land a national monument toward the end of his eight years in office.

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.

The memo calls for giving tribes co-management of designated cultural areas around the monuments in New Mexico and for funding to maintain the sites.

Conservation groups argue that Obama's designation of Gold Butte protected existing water rights.

Carrizo Plain National Monument, a 246,000-acre area owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management east of San Luis Obispo that is famous for carpets of wildflowers and that contains the largest native grassland remaining in California.

Zinke's memo to Trump noted the Mesquite water district's "historic water rights".

Originally designated by President Clinton in 2000, President Obama expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in January 2017.

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