US Will Not Eliminate Any National Monuments
US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he’s recommending that none of 27 national monuments carved from wilderness and ocean and under review by The Trump Administration be eliminated.
Secretary Zinke did say that unspecified boundary adjustments for some monuments designated over the past 40 years will be included in the recommendations he planned to give President Donald Trump Thursday.
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.
He also spoke of protecting tribal interests and historical land grants, pointing to monuments in New Mexico, where Hispanic ranchers have opposed 2 monuments proclaimed by former President Barack Hussein Obama.
Sec. Zinke declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to Crude Oil and Nat Gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which President Trump has advocated.
When and if President Trump adopts the recommendations, it would quiet 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 significant reductions in the size of the monuments, especially those created by Mr. Hussein Obama, would mark the latest in a string of actions where President Trump has shredded Mr. Hussein Obama’s Democratic legacy.
“There’s an expectation we need to look out 100 years from now to keep the public land experience alive in this country,” Sec. Zinke said. “You can protect the monument by keeping public access to traditional uses.”
The recommendations cap an unprecedented four-month review based on a belief that the 100 year-old Antiquities Act had been misused by past presidents to create over-sized monuments that hinder energy development, grazing and other uses.
The review raised alarm among conservationists who said protections could be lost for areas that are home to ancient cliff dwellings, towering sequoia trees, deep canyons and ocean habitats.
They have vowed to file lawsuits if President Trump attempts any changes that would reduce the size of monuments or rescind their designations.
Sec. Zinke had previously announced that no changes would be made at 6 national monuments in Montana, Colorado, Idaho, California, Arizona and Washington.
He declined to reveal specifics on individual sites in an interview.
He offered no further details on his recommendations for the 2 New Mexico monuments — Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
He struck back against conservationists who had warned of impending mass selloffs of public lands by The Trump Administration.
“I’ve heard this narrative that somehow the land is going to be sold or transferred,” Sec. Zinke said. “That narrative is patently false and shameful. The land was public before and it will be public after.”
The monuments under review were designated by 4 Presidents over the last 20 years. Several are about the size of the state of Delaware, including Mojave Trails in California, Grand-Staircase Escalante in Utah and Bears Ears, which is on sacred tribal land.
No other president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have trimmed and redrawn boundaries 18 times, according to the National Park Service.
Environmental groups said the 1906 Antiquities Act is intended to shield significant historical and archaeological sites, and that it allows Presidents to create the monuments, but only gives Congress the power to modify them.
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