Zinke Would Turn US Monuments Over to Commercial Use

Interior Secretary Endorses Shrinking 6 National Monuments

Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., who led efforts to stop any adjustment to monuments on California's coast, said he was relieved that Zinke's leaked recommendations apparently spared them, but he urged the president to make the report public.

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

Look what just LEAKED: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has told Trump to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante and either downsize or downgrade eight other iconic land and sea monuments.

Established Jan. 6, 2009, and enlarged September 25, 2014: The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument includes Wake, Baker, Howland and Jarvis islands; Johnston and Palmyra atolls; and Kingman Reef, which lie to the south and west of Hawaii.

A series of blurry photos were leaked Monday of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's proposed changes to the monument. The final report was required to be submitted to the White House on August 24, 2017.

"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".

Zinke also called for relaxing current restrictions within some of the monuments' boundaries for activities such as grazing, logging, coal mining and commercial fishing, according to a copy of the memo that the Post obtained.

A White House spokeswoman declined comment.

After Obama created the Atlantic monument, five commercial fishing groups sued in federal court.

The memo contends the president has the authority to shrink the monuments.

If Trump accepts Zinke's recommendations and moves through an executive action to roll back designations, the Natural Resources Defense Council is prepared to go to court, said Rhea Suh, president of the group. When he was president, Barrack Obama expanded the monument by 48,000 acres to protect biodiversity. The Trump administration argues that past presidents have overreached.

Some fishermen's groups in New England opposed the monument's designation previous year.

"Without these areas, we will lose protection for the snowpack that Jenny Creek badly needs to maintain cold water supplies for the redband trout and other native fishes in the creek", Williams wrote in an email.

He said the O&C counties still contend that theirs is a legal argument based on a 1940 decision by a former USA solicitor general that said the president could not convert O&C lands to a national monument.

'The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and waters and it's time we ended this abusive practice, ' Trump said at the time, calling the practice a 'massive federal land grab'. Jacky Rosen and Ruben Kihuen, both Democrats, have warned the Trump administration not to change the Nevada boundaries of Gold Butte and Basin and Range, citing public support and economic benefits from outdoor recreation.

"In this exercise, Trump and Zinke are fighting the will of the American public to gift-wrap pieces of the Pacific Northwest's crown jewel of biodiversity for the logging industry", said Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center.

Cascade-Siskiyou, in southwestern OR, protects about 113,000 acres in an area where three mountain ranges converge, while Nevada's Gold Butte protects almost 300,000 acres of desert landscapes that feature rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for bighorn sheep and the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise.

During the 120-day review, Zinke visited eight of the 27 national monuments under review, traveling to six states. The remaining four areas would not have reduced borders, though Zinke does recommended altering how they are used.

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