undergroundnewsroom.com April 26, 2018

Tree cutting in Katahdin Monument has Zinke's support

19 September 2017, 01:15 | Rodolfo Quinn

Interior Secretary Endorses Shrinking 6 National Monuments

Topp Hut

A national monument is a protected area similar to a national park, but it can be created from land owned or controlled by the federal government by proclamation of the president of the United States.

National monument designations add protections for lands known for their natural beauty with the goal of preserving them for future generations.

Clair, whose family donated the 87,500-acre parcel to the National Park Service a year ago, said he was "still waiting for the details" on the recommendations after language from Zinke's closely guarded recommendations to President Trump were leaked.

The memo called for reductions to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, both in Utah; Cascade Siskiyou in OR; and Gold Butte in Nevada, but it didn't include specific recommendations for their boundary changes. 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 president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have trimmed and redrawn boundaries 18 times, according to the National Park Service. The recommendations urged Trump to amend monument proclamations "to protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, fix and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights".

The president also spoke of protecting tribal interests and historical land grants, pointing to monuments in New Mexico, where Hispanic ranchers have opposed two monuments proclaimed by Obama. The Associated Press said it was not clear from the memo how much energy development would be allowed on the sites recommended for changes, although the memo cites increased public access as a key goal.

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In a statement, the White House has said it does not comment on leaked documents, "especially internal drafts which are still under review by the president and relevant agencies".

The recommendations could meet with resistance from Democrats in New Mexico's congressional delegation, as well as state and national environment and conservation groups, who have lobbied aggressively to persuade the Trump administration to keep the New Mexico monuments fully intact.

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

Zinke also proposed opening these publicly held national monuments up to drilling, logging, commercial fishing, and other activities for private profit. "If President Trump acts in support of these recommendations, The Wilderness Society will move swiftly to challenge those actions in court".

The Wilderness Society is threatening legal action, calling the recommendations an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands. But while he said the recommendation "basically says we should continue to do exactly what we are doing", St. Clair said it all depends on how the Trump administration implements the vague language within the report.

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