Yesterday, Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke turned over his long-awaited recommendations regarding 27 national monuments that the administration put in its cross hairs for possible alterations back in April.
While Zinke did not recommend that any of the monuments—all of which were designated by either Barrack Obama, Bill Clinton or George W. Bush—be completely rescinded, he did tell the Associated Press that he’d like to see some boundary adjustments (read shrinkage) and would prefer to loosen restrictions on extraction in a “handful” of the 27 national monuments.
His statement was vague, however, as he declined to pinpoint which monuments he has targeted for boundary adjustments and decreased protections.
According to the Washington Post, which spoke to multiple individuals briefed on the recommendations, Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante, as well as Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, will all be slated for size reductions if Zinke’s recommendations go into effect.
More proposed border adjustments and decreased land protections could be announced in the coming days when Zinke’s report is made public.
Since assuming the helm of the Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, a former Senator and Navy SEAL from Montana, has styled himself an advocate and proponent of public lands in the vein of Teddy Roosevelt, but his recent recommendations have conservationists worried that his tenure could ultimately compromise Roosevelt’s public lands legacy.
“The recommendations within Secretary Ryan Zinke‘s National Monument Review could negatively impact key fish & wildlife habitat, reduce outdoor opportunities, and undermine the Antiquities Act that has enabled the long-term protection of millions of acres,” reads a statement released yesterday by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a conservation organization out of Missoula Montana.
The Antiquities Act, which was signed into law by Roosevelt himself in 1906, affords presidents the legal authority to designate national monuments, but many argue that it does not give the executive branch the power to alter or rescind previous designations—as Trump and Zinke are now clearly attempting to do.
“Any actions that would dismantle these natural wonders would violate Americans’ deep and abiding love for parks and public lands and fly in the face of 2.8 million Americans who expressed opposition to these changes,” said President of the Wilderness Society, Jamie Williams in a e posted to the organization’s website. “We and millions of other Americans stand by the belief that those lands should be preserved and handed down to future generations. We urge President Trump to ignore these illegal and dangerous recommendations and instead act to preserve these beloved places.”
For his part, Donald Trump has expressed disdain for the size and amount of national monuments declared by his previous three predecessors, calling the designations a “massive federal land grab” during an executive order signing at the Department of Interior back in April.
“It’s time to end these abuses and return control to the people, the people of Utah, the people of all of the states, the people of the United States,” Trump went on to say.
Stay tuned as we continue to cover this important and ongoing public lands issue.