December 16, 2019

National Monument Review: Nothing Changes. Only Faces and Rhetoric

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If you read it and understand it!

Press Release from the Department of Interior:

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke sent a draft report to the president which included his findings and recommendations on national monuments that were under review as a result of the April 26, 2017 executive order. The report summary can be read here. The extensive 120-day review included more than 60 meetings with hundreds of advocates and opponents of monument designations, tours of monuments conducted over air, foot, car, and horseback (including a virtual tour of a marine monument), and a thorough review of more than 2.4 million public comments submitted to the Department on regulations.gov. Additionally, countless more meetings and conversations between senior Interior officials and local, state, Tribal, and non-government stakeholders including multiple Tribal listening sessions.

The review was initiated by President Trump in order to restore trust in the multiple-use mission of the Department and to give rural communities a voice in federal land management decisions. In order to make the process transparent and give local residents and stakeholders a voice, the Secretary announced on May 5, 2017 the opening up of a formal comment period for the review, as the President directed. This was the first time ever that a formal comment period was open on regulations.gov for national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.

“No President should use the authority under the Antiquities Act to restrict public access, prevent hunting and fishing, burden private land, or eliminate traditional land uses, unless such action is needed to protect the object,” said Secretary Zinke.“The recommendations I sent to the president on national monuments will maintain federal ownership of all federal land and protect the land under federal environmental regulations, and also provide a much needed change for the local communities who border and rely on these lands for hunting and fishing, economic development, traditional uses, and recreation.”

While traveling across the country, Secretary Zinke met with hundreds of local stakeholders and heard concerns about some national monuments negatively impacting things like local revenue from federal lands, agriculture, private property rights, public access to land, traditional Tribal uses of the land, and timber harvesting.

Over the 120-day review, Secretary Zinke visited eight national monument sites in six states:

  • Bears Ears (UT)
  • Grand Staircase Escalante (UT)
  • Katahdin Woods and Waters (ME)
  • Northeast Canyons and Seamounts
  • Cascade Siskiyou (OR & CA)
  • Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (NM)
  • Basin and Range (NV)
  • Gold Butte (NV)

The following national monuments were announced to have been removed from review prior to the August 24 deadline:

Bishop Statement on Secretary Zinke’s National Monument Review 

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 24, 2017 –

Today, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement in reaction to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s final review of national monument designations under the Antiquities Act (Act):

“I am encouraged by the recommendations to revise previous designations that were inconsistent with the law and outside the Act’s size limitations. It is my hope that President Trump takes this opportunity to begin realigning uses of the law with its intended purpose. It’s also incumbent on Congress to pursue reforms to the Act that ensure it is being used to protect antiquities while providing meaningful local input in the designation process and reasonable continued public access to these iconic areas. Ultimately, only Congress can restore integrity to this law and prevent future abuses.

Cantwell Statement On President Trump’s Effort To Shut Down National Monuments

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) made the following statement regarding Secretary Zinke’s national monument report:

“Teddy Roosevelt would roll over in his grave if he could see what Donald Trump and Ryan Zinke are trying to do to our national treasures today. Secretary Zinke’s secret report to the President is the latest step in a rigged process to try and turn over our public lands to oil and gas companies. 

The Secretary announced this morning that his recommendation to the President will include making a “handful” of changes to existing national monuments.   As I’ve said for months, the President does not have the legal authority to overturn these protections.  This report and entire process have amounted to nothing but a colossal waste of tax payer dollars.

The Trump Administration is trying to erase over 100 years of conservation and open space for all to enjoy through hunting, fishing and recreating.  Any attempt to eliminate outdoor recreation opportunities for veterans and all other Americans by giving them away to special interests is unacceptable.  These special places belong to the people, not to corporate polluters, and I will continue fighting to keep them that way.”

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