|Barack Obama went hog wild making monuments|
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday called on President Trump to shrink a total of four national monuments and change the way six other land and marine sites are managed, a sweeping overhaul of how protected areas are maintained in the United States.Literally millions of acres of public lands had their status changed.
Zinke’s final report comes a day after Trump signed proclamations in Utah that downsized two massive national monuments there — Bears Ears by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly 46 percent. The president had directed Zinke in April to review 27 national monuments established since 1996 under the Antiquities Act, which gives the president broad authority to safeguard federal lands and waters under threat.
In addition to the Utah sites, Zinke supports cutting Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou, though the exact reductions are still being determined. He also would revise the proclamations for those and the others to clarify that certain activities are allowed.
The additional monuments affected include Northeast Canyons and Seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean; both Rose Atoll and the Pacific Remote Islands in the Pacific Ocean; New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte, and Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters.
“The Antiquities Act over time has done great things for our country, and it has protected some of our greatest treasures,” he said in a call with reporters. But its power had been “abused,” he said, with monument designations extending far beyond the objects they were designed to protect.
Some of the objects defined in past proclamations, he noted, were too abstract: “Stars, biological diversity, remoteness, emptiness.”
Zinke criticized the federal government’s past action halting motorized vehicle traffic in Cascade-Siskiyou until a transportation plan could be finalized, saying it interfered with local cross-country ski operators’ ability to maintain trails.
For several sites, Zinke recommended amending the monuments’ proclamation language to ensure activities such as grazing, hunting and fishing can continue. While these practices often go on even after a presidential designation, Zinke said he wants to make that legality clear because ranchers have felt marginalized and fear they will face future restrictions.
In the case of New Mexico’s national monuments, Zinke said, he listened to the state’s two Democratic senators and others in deciding not to modify their boundaries. Still, he wanted “to make sure that the proclamation protects the long-standing grazing [in parts] of those monuments” and that management of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks does not interfere with U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations in the area.