Sec. Zinke Not Going To Recommend Elimination For National Monuments

Sec. Zinke Not Going To Recommend Elimination For National Monuments”

As part of an expedited review, Zinke recommended in an interim report earlier this year that Trump revise the Bears Ears boundaries.

"We strongly urge you to honor the views from New Mexicans who love the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments".

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tells The Associated Press that he's recommending that all 27 monuments under review should be spared from elimination.

Conservationists say this is exactly what they feared: They don't know what those changes mean or which monuments will be targeted, because Zinke has been vague on what's in his report to Trump. It is unclear whether Zinke is recommending altering the boundaries of some monuments and/or opening them up to industrial uses.

Since 1996, former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama protected hundreds of millions of acres under the Antiquities Act, which authorizes the president to declare federal lands and waters as monuments and restrict their use.

Opponents to the Trump administration-led review have said the government does not have the legal authority to unwind monument protections.

If the president follows through on recommendations to modify, reduce, or revoke any monument, he will be on solid legal footing.

New Mexico's other Democratic congressional leaders have also pushed for no changes.

The White House said Trump has received the draft report, and is "reviewing his recommendations to determine the best path forward for the American people".

Jacqueline Savitz, senior vice president of Oceana, which has been pushing for preservation of five marine monuments included in the review, said that simply saying "changes" are coming doesn't reveal any real information.

Supports of the monuments say the designations have helped to protect some of the state's most iconic landscapes and that tourism and economic development related to the sites are on the rise.

According to a summary of the report, Zinke found that over the decades the scope and reasoning behind the designations has changed and that some proclamations were "arbitrary or politically motivated".

Ben Schreiber, a political strategist at the environmental group Friends of the Earth, called Zinke's statement that he would shrink a "handful" of monuments "another in a long line of blatant handouts to the oil and gas industry".

Zinke made clear that public access for fishing, hunting, and grazing would be maintained or restored, and spoke to tribal interests. "I've heard this narrative that somehow the land is going to be sold or transferred", Zinke says.

This narrative is false and has no basis in fact.

For ranchers and people in the West who use public lands, the concept of an Antiquities Act designation just hits them the wrong way, Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Land Council, told NewsHour. Bishop provided no timeline as to when he would make his recommendations for updates to the Antiquities Act and did not define what changes he would request. The Antiquities Act does not give the president explicit power to undo a designation and no president has ever taken such a step.

This is far from the first time an examination of scope of monuments has been conducted. A president has never abolished a national monument. "PLF has been at the vanguard of challenging illegal monuments and defending the president's power to reconsider existing, abusive monuments". While Zinke declined to comment on future fossil fuel speculation for the 27 monuments under review, such plans had been floated for Bears Ears in the recent past. Whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and camping are some of the more outstanding activities that can be enjoyed in the Monument.

The Penobscot River's East Branch flows through the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument near Patten, Maine on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. Located adjacent to and on the east side of Las Cruces, this area provides opportunities for photography, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, and wildlife viewing.

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