After Bears Ears, Trump Administration Ponders More Changes To National Monuments

2017-12-06T16:48:34+00:00 December 6, 2017|
Within the blue outline, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument currently contains the areas in the light blue squares. Expansion could include anything up to the full grey areas surrounding each bit of land. (Map credit: NOAA)

Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll (Map credit: NOAA)

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that President Trump  scale back four more national monuments — two on land and two in the Pacific — and make modifications to at least four more, continuing an unprecedented blitz of presidential action to ease restriction on public lands. 

(From USA Today/ By Gregory Korte) —  The additional recommendations come the day after Trump signed proclamations rolling back two national monuments in southern Utah: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Next, Zinke is recommending that Trump reduce the size of Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California, Gold Butte in Nevada.

“The Interior’s position is that public lands are for public use, not special interests,” Zinke told reporters Tuesday.

The review of more than two dozen national monuments came after Trump signed an executive order in April looking back at major monuments created or expanded over the last two decades.

For Cascade-Siskiyou and Gold Butte, Zinke wants to reduce the size of the monuments  — although he didn’t specify by how much. Cascade-Siskiyou surrounds a number of privately owned lands, and Zinke also wants to open up more areas for timber harvesting. At Gold Butte, the issue is water rights for the city of Mesquite, Nev.

Zinke also recommends boundary changes to two marine national monuments: the Pacific Remote Islands and the Rose Atoll, which together protect more than 322 million acres. Those moves could ultimately lead to more commercial fishing.

On many other monuments, Zinke didn’t recommend boundary changes.  But he did ask for a number of other modifications, including:

  • Katahdin Woods and Waters, a 87,500-acre monument in Maine created by President Obama last year. Zinke wants to reopen the area to timber harvesting.
  • Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, a 3.1 million-acre monument off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. created by Obama last year. Zinke recommends that the monument be reopened to “well regulated commercial fishing.”
  • Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, a 496,529-acre monument in New Mexico created by Obama in 2014. Zinke noted that the area is close to the Mexican border and said it’s been used as a drug smuggling route. Zinke said the administration should consult with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense about possible changes.
  •  Rio Grande Del Norte, a quarter million-acre monument in New Mexico created by Obama in 2013. Zinke said the administration should invest in infrastructure to allow more grazing in the area.

Monday’s actions have already been the target of at least two federal lawsuits. Ten environmental groups are challenging…

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