Zinke Recommends Shrinking Six Monuments Including Bears Ears

21 September 2017, 12:14 | Robert Harris

Interior Secretary Endorses Shrinking 6 National Monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rode a horse in the Bears Ears National Monument near Blanding Utah earlier this year. A leaked memo from Zinke to President Trump recommends that Bears Ears be reduced

The White House had refused to release the recommendations, but on Monday they were leaked to the media. The report was prompted by an April executive order in which President Donald Trump instructed Zink to examine all national monuments created since January 1, 1996, that are at least 100,000 acres. In that list it details the six he states should have their boundaries revised: Bears Ears, Gold Butte, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Cascade-Siskiyou, Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll.

Titus said opponents of the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, designated by President Barack Obama last December, have created a straw man argument about water rights without mentioning that the monument's proclamation includes language to protect them. "American outdoor enthusiasts should have more access to public lands, not less".

Zinke also noted that the 1937 O&C Act requires those lands to be set aside for permanent forest production.

The Utah congressional delegation, all Republicans, have urged Trump to roll back designations in that state, saying the protections deprive local communities economic benefits from grazing, mining and other commercial development.

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke recommended at least four land monuments be shrunk and that 10 sites allow commercial activity. However no amounts are specified.

"Congress already set aside these lands eighty years ago for the specific objective of sustainable timber production in the O&C Act, and the president - regardless of party - doesn't have the authority to rewrite the law", said American Forest Resource Council President Travis Joseph.

Tim Freeman, president of the Association of O&C counties, hadn't seen the leaked memo and was hesitant to comment on it. We're ready to fight this handover of our public lands to looters and polluters - on Capitol Hill, in the courts and with the grassroots - but we can't do it all without your help right now.

The Douglas County commissioner said despite those who say the decision is dated, the 77-year-old opinion had the intent of the 1937 Act in mind. "To have (that support) dismissed with such a slapdash, error-filled report is extremely frustrating", he says. WELC is defending the monument expansion from three timber industry lawsuits that are stayed (on pause) until after the review and any subsequent government action. "This sham review from Secretary Zinke has been unpopular from beginning to end, and it will continue to be met with opposition by the vast majority of Westerners and Americans".

National monuments are national monuments for a reason: They protect lands known for their natural beauty; biodiversity, including rare and/or threatened animal and plant species; and historical artifacts such as rock art. He arbitrarily chose to take no action on six national monuments, without providing any criteria for his decisions to leave current protections in place.

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'If Teddy were alive today, he'd declare political war on Zinke and Trump, ' she said.

"If we have a small family based logging operation that employs seven individuals, those seven individuals support seven families and the economic impact of that logging company and those seven families is about a million dollars to the local economy every single year", says Dana Doran, Executive Director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.

Secretary Zinke was supposed to submit a final report on August 24th, and indeed, the memo contains the words "final report" in the subject line. "It's clear the Secretary heard these concerns as reflected in his recommendation to the President", Walden said in a prepared statement. "It looks like he's made some really good recommendations".

"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".

Allowing "active timber management" was among the ideas for Maine's Katahdin Woods and Waters, as it used to be private land, which was often used for snowmobiling too.

National monument designations have protected some of the most spectacular public landscapes in the country from fossil fuel extraction, mining and logging.

He accused previous presidents of improper "land grabs" in establishing the monuments, singling out President Obama who placed 553 million acres under protection during his presidency - more than any other USA president.

The potential reduction has conservation groups as well as politicians threatening litigation.

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