Leaked Zinke Memo Urges Trump to Shrink National Monuments

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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". "But published reports indicated that the Secretary recommended substantial reductions in three national monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah, and Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon".

In April, the president ordered Zinke to review 27 monuments-all larger than 100,000 acres-that have been granted federal protections under the Antiquities Act since 1996, claiming that his predecessors went too far when designating certain USA lands and waters as protected from commercial activity. A spokeswoman for the fisheries council says it is working on rules that would freeze the footprint where commercial fishing is now allowed in Atlantic slopes and canyons, including in some parts of the monument, but would not bar it altogether.

They are not as protected as United States national parks, but some have limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as off-road vehicles.

The recommendations cap an unprecedented four-month review based on Trump's claim that 1906 Antiquities Act has been misused by recent presidents to create oversized monuments that hinder energy development, grazing and other uses.

Bears Ears, designated for federal protection by former President Barack Obama, totals 1.3 million acres in southeastern Utah on land that is sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

The monuments under review were designated by four presidents over the last two decades.

If the president adopts the recommendations, it would ease 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. The land had been donated to the park service for a national monument by Elliotsville Plantation, a nonprofit created by St. Clair's mother, conservationist and entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby.




A Los Angeles Times graphic shows the Trump administration's plans for national monuments as of September 2017.

"If President Trump accepts Zinke's advice, and moves to eviscerate monument protections, he'd be ignoring the law-and the will of the American people", said Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) president Rhea Suh, who also vowed to fight the changes in court, should the president act on the secretary's suggestions.

An aerial photo of Tramp Ridge in Gold Butte National Monument on Friday, July 21, 2017.

The president could also send the recommendations to Congress and request that lawmakers make the adjustments.

Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, said the recommendations apparently made by Mr Zinke "represent an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands" by the Trump administration.

"This callous proposal will needlessly punish local, predominantly rural communities that depend on parks and public lands for outdoor recreation, sustainable jobs and economic growth", the Wilderness Society said late Sunday.

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